The German conservatives won, Sunday, June 6, a clear victory against the far right in a crucial regional election in the former GDR, according to exit polls. This success is very good news for Armin Laschet, the unpopular head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and aspiring to succeed Angela Merkel after the legislative elections of September 26.
The CDU would win between 35 and 36% of the vote ahead of the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD, 22.5 to 23.5%) in the Saxony-Anhalt ballot. “This is a sensational result”, welcomed the secretary general of the CDU, Paul Ziemiak, whose merit he first attributed to the head of the local government, Reiner Haseloff. ” I am delighted “, said the latter, “People voted against the AfD (…), we fought in a united way, it is also a message in the direction of Berlin ”, he warned.
Armin Laschet, contested even in his ranks, sorely needed success to rally his troops and consolidate the position of the conservatives who, after falling behind the Greens in voting intentions at the national level, are again at the top of the polls . Germany’s largest party trembled in Saxony-Anhalt: while most opinion polls gave it the advantage, it was followed by the AfD, the anti-icing party that has become the second regional political force since 2016.
A government without the AfD
Since Mr Laschet took over the CDU in January, Germany’s largest party has gone through a crisis of confidence, linked to failures in government management during the third wave of the coronavirus epidemic and to corruption scandals of its deputies during purchase contracts for protective masks.
The formation, which had suffered two stinging setbacks in March during two regional elections, also suffered from a fierce internal struggle: the candidacy of Mr. Laschet was contested by the leader of the Bavarian party CSU, Markus Söder, judged by many more fit to lead the campaign. Mr. Laschet has imposed himself but remains unloved in the country.
Mr Haseloff, whose party won 30% of the vote in the last election, has clearly ruled out alliances with the far right, although some members of his party have flirted with the idea in recent years. Since 2016, he has led an unprecedented coalition in the country, with the Greens and the Social Democrats of the SPD.
Reiner Haseloff could renew his coalition with environmentalists, who progressed slightly with around 6.5% of the vote, according to exit polls, and the SPD, even if the latter lost votes. He could also consider another configuration with the Liberals of the FDP, who will return to the regional parliament.
Very marked by the coal industry, the Land of Saxony-Anhalt is one of the eastern states most affected by the exodus of its inhabitants since reunification in 1990. A fertile ground for the AfD, which has built its success by fueling fears about the influx of migrants into the country in 2015 and which regularly accuses Berlin of having neglected the regions of the former GDR.
In 2017, the far right made a sensational entry into the Bundestag, the Parliament, becoming the leading opposition force with 12.6% of the vote.