Merkel's conservatives win election in Eastern German coal mining state
Clean Energy Wire
Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives won a surprisingly clear victory in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, in a boost for the bloc's candidate for chancellor Armin Laschet in September's general election. According to preliminary results, Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) won 37.1 percent of votes, a gain of more than 7 points compared to the last election in 2016. The right-wing populist AfD came second with 20.8 percent, followed by 11 percent for the left-wing Die Linke, 8.4 percent for the Social Democrats (SPD), 5.9 percent for the Greens and 6.4 percent for the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP). Although regional issues in the state differ from the rest of the country, the vote was seen as a last test before the federal elections on 26 September.
On a national level, the Green Party currently polls on a par with Merkel’s conservative bloc. Whereas climate change is a decisive issue for nearly three-quarters of voters in the whole of the country, the topic was not a top priority for voters in the east German state. According to a recent survey, voters identify the coronavirus pandemic (39%), the economy (19%) and education (19%) as the most important political problems in Saxony-Anhalt. Environmental protection and climate change are in eighth place, with only six percent of voters saying that solving these issues should be prioritised in the state.
Saxony-Anhalt has only a little over two million citizens, barely more than the city of Hamburg, and is home to one of Germany’s three main coal mining regions. It is currently governed by the CDU, SPD and the Green Party, making up a so-called “Kenya coalition” – referring to the party colours black, red and green, which make up the Kenyan flag – under the leadership of CDU minister president Reiner Haseloff, who was personally credited with attracting many voters. The state is one of the poorest and its population is older than the national average, making it hard to draw comparisons with the federal level.