German governing parties punished in state election

Merkel Coalition Set for Another Battering in Hesse Elections			ODD ANDERSEN  AFP  Getty Images		28 Oct 2018

Merkel's ruling Christian Democratic Union, now in a strained coalition with the German Social Democrat Party (SPD), took home just 27.2% of the electoral vote, a steep decline from the previous Hesse election's 38.3% in 2013; the SPD also saw a decline in take-home votes, falling from 30.7% to 19.6%, their worst election results in the region since 1946, and the left side of Merkel's ruling coalition saw themselves on equal footing with their nearest competition, the Greens, who also took 19.6%.

Germany's central region of Hesse was voting Sunday in a state election marked by discontent with infighting in the national government - and its results could help determine whether Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration has a long-term future.

The CDU vote fell 11.3 per cent compared to the last elections in 2013.

It is still unclear what this means for Merkel's leadership.

Hesse's election has mirrored the Bavarian state vote, held just two weeks ago, which brought big gains for the Greens and AfD, but dealt a sensitive blow to the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), as well as the SPD.

Hesse's election was closely watched by analysts for signs of further dropping support for the CDU and SPD.

Merkel has been CDU chairwoman since 2000 and giving up the role would start a race within the party to succeed her as chancellor.

Meanwhile, the Greens - already the junior government partner in Hesse - look poised to nearly double their 2013 vote share to around 20 percent, topping the 17.5 percent they scored in conservative Bavaria.

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The CDU's general secretary, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said the coalition needs to identify "three concrete projects for the coming months that we implement".

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) meanwhile took 13.1 percent to enter the Hesse state legislature for the first time.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told her CDU party that she will not run for re-election as its chairwoman in December, sources say.

But a bad outcome for either Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the SPD or both will uncork a fresh round of finger-pointing and calls to abandon the veteran chancellor's third loveless "grand coalition".

The results were quite a disappointment for the CDU candidate and Ministers-President of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, a Merkel man who has stuck with her through thick and thin.

Merkel has dragged the CDU to the political center in her years as leader, dropping military conscription, introducing benefits encouraging fathers to look after their young children, and abruptly accelerating the shutdown of Germany's nuclear power plants following Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011. The result, the SPD's worst since 1946, will pile pressure on the party leader, Andrea Nahles.

Standing down now would allow the next party leader to build a profile before the next national election, which is due in 2021.

Of the SPD, he added: "A party on the way down can not suddenly rise from the ashes by going into the opposition".

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