Friday

20th Oct 2017

Regional elections spell trouble for Merkel

  • Angela Merkel: Still Ms Popular, but her coalition is being put to the test (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The Social Democrats and Greens narrowly won the elections in Lower Saxony on Sunday (20 January), indicating a tougher-than-expected race for Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition at general elections in September.

At the end of a race that pollsters said was too close to call, it all came down to less than one percent of the vote: the so-called "Red-Green" camp scored 46.3 percent of the vote and got one seat more in the regional parliament, enough to topple the ruling "Black-Yellow" coalition of Merkel's Conservatives and Liberals (45.9%).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"If Merkel loses in September as much as Black-Yellow lost in Lower Saxony, she's gone. Congratulations to the Greens," Green leader Juergen Trittin tweeted on Sunday evening.

The surprise winner of the elections, Social-Democrat Stephan Weil, an uncharismatic mayor of Hannover, will now replace Angela Merkel's protegee David McAllister as governor of Lower Saxony.

Weil made it despite recent financial intrigues and gaffes surrounding the top candidate of the Social Democrats for the federal elections, Peer Steinbrueck.

"There was no tailwind from Berlin for Stephan Weil. I recognise that I have a certain responsibility for it," Steinbrueck said on Sunday during a speech at the Social Democrats' Berlin headquarters.

Steinbrueck tweeted when the final results were published that the reverse is true: "Thank you, Stephan! This gives us tailwind for the general elections in September."

But the big surprise of the evening was the unexpectedly good score of the Liberal Free Democrats.

At almost 10 percent of the vote, the FDP exceeded all expectations, after some pollsters cast doubt they would even make it into the regional legislature. Over 100,000 votes came from Christian-Democrat voters, who cast their second vote for the FDP in order to keep the ruling coalition in power.

The embattled FDP leader and Merkel's economy minister, Philipp Roesler, hailed the victory in his home state as a fresh beginning: "This is a great day for the Free Democrats in Lower Saxony and for the Free Democrats in Germany. The race has just begun."

Roesler is due to make an announcement later on Monday, with media speculating he may still hand over the leadership to parliamentary group chief Rainer Bruederle, as this could be a good moment to leave in glory, however.

The biggest losers of the elections were the Pirate Party and the radical-left Linke, who failed to make it into the parliament of Lower Saxony and are now struggling to find anew strategy for the general elections.

The Red-Green victory also strengthens their lead in the upper chamber (Bundesrat) over Merkel's coalition, to 36 out the Bundesrat's 69 seats.

Most legislation is handled in the lower chamber (Bundestag), but the Bundesrat has already blocked some bills over which it has power, such as a tax agreement with Switzerland.

Make-or-break elections for Merkel coalition partner

Regional elections in Lower Saxony on Sunday are being seen as a barometer for Germany's general elections in autumn, with Chancellor Merkel's junior coalition partner struggling for survival.

Merkel protegee eyes EU career

After an unexpected loss in regional elections earlier this year, Merkel's protegee, David McAllister, is eyeing an EU career as CDU top-candidate for the EU elections and possibly German commissioner.

Magazine

The EU Agencies Race

In this edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine, we take a closer look at some of the EU agencies, exploring how their location matters and the benefits for cities and regions to host them.

Magazine

History of the agencies (re)shuffle

The history of how EU agency seats were established shows that political deal-making, not logic or objective criteria, is the decisive factor.

EU medicines agency reveals new home preferences

Staff said they preferred to move to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Milan, or Vienna. More than 70% said they would quit if the agency moved to Athens, Bratislava, Bucharest, Helsinki, Malta, Sofia, Warsaw, or Zagreb.

Magazine

The EU Agencies Race

In this edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine, we take a closer look at some of the EU agencies, exploring how their location matters and the benefits for cities and regions to host them.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch PM: Brexit is 'still a bad idea'
  2. Commission to issue proposal on civil protection
  3. Tusk: 'No space' for EU intervention in Catalonia
  4. Austrian PM calls Brexit talks speed 'big disappointment'
  5. PM Muscat: journalist murder 'left a mark' on Malta
  6. Belgian PM: No crisis with Spain over Catalan remarks
  7. Ireland PM: Further Brexit concessions needed from UK
  8. Merkel: rule of law in Turkey going 'in wrong direction'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  2. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  3. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  6. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  7. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  8. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  9. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  10. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  11. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness