19th Jun 2018

Merkel's CDU hits buffers in regional elections

  • Some centre-right politicians have blamed Angela Merkel's campaigning style for the losses (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), suffered an electoral blow on Sunday as it lost its absolute majority in two states.

Voters went to the polls in Saarland, near the French border, and in Thuringia and Saxony, in what was formerly the Communist east. All three states were governed by the CDU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

But Sunday's results show that in Saarland, the CDU's share of the vote dropped to 34.5 percent from 47.5 percent five years ago. In Thuringia, the vote dropped to 31.2 percent from 43 percent. The slump meant that the CDU lost its majority in both states.

In Saxony, the CDU fared better and is able to form a governing coalition with the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) - a political partnership Mrs Merkel is hoping to repeat a national level at the end of the month.

The results have led to nervousness in the ranks of the CDU ahead of the 27 September general elections, with some politicians blaming Mrs Merkel's campaign style for the erosion of the party's popularity.

Several German newspapers carry articles by centre-right politicians in which the chancellor is asked to show more passion, as well as to be clear that the FDP would be the coalition partner in any CDU-led government after the elections.

"Alarm bells should be ringing at CDU headquarters," Hans-Juergen Hoffmann, managing director of Berlin-based polling company Psephos, told the Bloomberg news agency.

"Merkel has stood in the shadows during these elections. She's got four weeks to seize the reins of leadership and grab voters' attention."

Although the CDU slipped in the voter rankings, the results were a strong disappointment to the Social Democrats, currently in the ruling coalition with Mrs Merkel and who failed to see much hoped-for gains at the ballot box.

They have trailed in the polls to the CDU despite a lacklustre campaign by the chancellor, but Sunday's vote showed smaller parties - the FDP and the far left - gaining at the expense of the two major parties.

Foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the SPD's candidate for chancellor, put a brave face on the results.

"Whoever wrote off the SPD in the last few weeks is in for a surprise," he said.

EU states set to back some asylum reform laws

Efforts to reform 'Dublin', a regulation that determines who is responsible for asylum applications, remain mired in controversy. But other less contentious reforms that make up EU asylum laws have already reached provisional agreements.


The Baltic 'Big Sea' strategy

The Baltic Sea is almost an inland European lake - it borders Norway, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Kaliningrad and Russia. It also has an EU strategy - and an action plan.


Is EU retail sector equipped for 21st century?

After a thorough analysis in cooperation with EU countries we have identified many regulatory restrictions that hamper innovation and investment in the retail sector.


The Baltic 'Big Sea' strategy

The Baltic Sea is almost an inland European lake - it borders Norway, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Kaliningrad and Russia. It also has an EU strategy - and an action plan.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron meet over migration and eurozone
  2. Salvini plans census of Roma communities
  3. Slovenia to take Croatia to court in border row
  4. Parliamentary setback over corruption in Romania
  5. Lords force new vote for UK parliament to influence Brexit
  6. Report: Audi CEO arrested over Dieselgate
  7. EU-Australia trade talks kick off in Brussels next month
  8. France and Germany moving closer to eurozone reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  2. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us