Heavy Loss In Key Regional Election Puts Merkel’s Coalition Under Threat

Following suffering losses in a regional election on Sunday, the coalition partner party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave her party till next year to deliver more policy results and threatened to withdraw support in case of no improvement.

According ot an exit poll for broadcaster ARD showed Despite polling just 28 per cent of the votes, Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) bagged the first position in the election in the western state of Hesse. The percentage of votes is a large fall for her party from the 38.3 percent of votes the CDU had bagged during the last Hesse election, in 2013.

The results for the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) was worse as the party only managed to garner 20 percent of the vote compared to the 30.7 percent. This is also the worst performance of the party in the western state since 1946.

The SPD would conduct a mid-term review of the improvement of the Merkel government’s policies next year, said its leader Andrea Nahles and added that the progress made by the ruling coalition would be measured by her with the help of a roadmap.

“We could then gauge the implementation of this roadmap at the agreed mid-term review, when we would be able to clearly see if this government is the right place for us,” Nahles told reporters. “The state of the government is unacceptable.”

The message from the coalition partner was loud and clear – it would pull out of the coalition with Merkel if the party was unable to show its supporters some form of tangible improvement in by the government.

his party had achieved its goal of being able to lead the next government in Hesse, said Volker Bouffier, the incumbent CDU state premier in Hesse.

“The message to the parties ruling in Berlin is: People want fewer disputes and more focus on the important issues,” he said.

According to analysts, Merkel might be pulled back from performing her role as the leader of the European Union because of this weakness at home. This is also a critical time for the EU given Brexit is just a few months away. There are also concerns about Italy’s budget proposal that was rejected by the European Commission and the lurking threat of potential gains to be made at the European parliament elections next May by populist parties.

The ARD exit poll also showed the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) as another winner in the elections as it managed to enter the Hesse regional assembly for the first time with just 12 percent of the vote.

Josef Joffe, publisher-editor of weekly Die Zeit said Merkel’s ruling coalition “has lost the confidence of the electorate”.

Talking about the SPD, he added: “A party on the way down cannot suddenly rise from the ashes by going into the opposition. So the party grandees will clench their teeth, stay in the coalition and wait for a better day.”

(Adapted from CNBC.com)


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