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German election: Merkel's CDU wins big in regional election

German election: Merkel's CDU wins big in regional election”

The Left Party got 12.9 percent of the vote in the western German state where they perform best, down over three percent from the last Saarland election.

Like federal Germany, Saarland has been governed by a "grand coalition" of Merkel's conservatives and the SPD and that situation looked likely to continue, as the result left the CDU short of sufficient support to rule alone in the state.

Merkel, seeking a fourth term in September, is facing a close race with SDP candidate Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament.

A couple of weeks ago we wrote several notes about German Chancellor Angela Merkel's painfully awkward visit to the White House.

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The rival Social Democratic Party's (SDP) share of the vote fell from 30.6 percent to 29.6 percent.

"This is a great start to the election year 2017", said Michael Grosse-Broemer, the chief whip for Merkel's Christian Democrats in Berlin.

In Saarland, a recent survey indicated a lead for the CDU, but there are predictions that a coalition between the SPD, the far-left Linke and the environmentalist Greens may emerge.

The SPD has recently seen a surge in support under its new leader Martin Schulz, with some polls placing the party neck-and-neck with the CDU and even ahead of them for the first time in nearly 10 years.

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The anti-immigration and right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party won six percent of the votes, which means it is now represented in 11 of Germany's 16 state assemblies. The Social Democrats hope that Saarland was an exception and put their defeat down to the personal popularity of Kramp-Karrenbauer.

"The CDU has demonstrated an outstanding result with 40.7 percent of votes with a significant growth in turnout when compared with the previous election in the Landtag (State Diet) and with a growth in support numbers", Merkel said.

The unorthodox move would also suggest relations between the two countries are even more strained than previously thought. They include Schulz's home state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous region.

"If the Greens had gotten just one percent more, we'd have very different headlines today", party co-chairperson Katja Kipping said in Berlin.

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The center-left Sueddeutsche newspaper said the poll had been a crushing reality check for the SPD.



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