28 Mar 2022, 12:47
Benjamin Wehrmann

SPD sustains winning streak by gaining absolute majority in Saarland election

Saarbrücker Zeitung

In the first major election in Germany since the federal election last year, voters in the state of Saarland handed the Social Democrats (SPD) a sweeping victory. Official preliminary results saw the SPD gain over 43 percent of all votes in the small southwestern state, meaning the party under top candidate Anke Rehlinger will likely be able to govern without a coalition partner, newspaper Saarbrücker Zeitung writes. The conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), which had governed Saarland for nearly 23 years, finished a distant second with 28.5 percent, losing over 10 percentage points compared to the election in 2017. The incumbent state premier, Tobias Hans, hinted that the CDU’s worst election result in the state in 67 years would mean he will step down as the state party’s leader. Apart from the SPD and CDU, only the far-right AfD managed to clear the 5-percent-threshold needed to enter parliament, whereas the Green Party, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the Left Party all failed to gain the required minimum share of the vote. The AfD gained 5.7 percent, slightly less than in 2017, the Greens 4.9 percent, the FDP 4.8 percent and the Left Party, for which the Saarland used to be a western stronghold in the country, received only 2.6 percent. The Greens still have a slim chance for entering parliament, as the party reportedly fell only 23 votes short of reaching the 5-percent-threshold, the newspaper says. However, this would not change the fact that Social Democrat Rehlinger can expect to have an absolute majority in the state’s parliament.  

The SPD was widely expected to achieve a clear victory in the state with less than a million inhabitants, sustaining a positive trend for the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The vote in Saarland was the first out of four state elections in 2022. The outcome arguably has the smallest impact on federal politics. On 8 May, voters in wind-power state Schleswig-Holstein head to the ballot, followed by an election on 15 May in the most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, and on 9 October in Lower Saxony, an important industry state that is home to carmaker Volkswagen.

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