CDU victory in Saarland: a blessing in disguise for Schulz?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday celebrated an encouraging win for her conservatives in a state election, declaring that her party has "every chance" in upcoming votes. That was up from 35.2% in 2012 and better than the 29.6% won by the Social Democrats led by Martin Schulz.

Saarland has only 800,000 eligible voters, but the state election was the first of three regional votes ahead of the September 24 federal vote and offered an opportunity for the parties to build, or lose, momentum for the national election.

"We have made mighty gains, while support for the enemies of democracy has dropped off in ways that no one has expected", Schultz said.

The Social Democrats were left to explain why they managed slightly less than 30 percent of the vote.

The Guardian says two state elections in May will give further indications of the political temperature in Europe's largest economy.

The Left party (Linke) was reported to have won 13 percent of the votes, Alternative for Germany (AfD) 6 percent and the Greens 4.5 percent.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which bruised Merkel in regional elections a year ago after her decision in 2015 to open Germany's doors to migrants from the Middle East, won 6.2 percent of the vote in Saarland. Last month, Schultz had 40 percent and Merkel 34 percent.

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This may be an early indication of Merkel's prospects of winning a fourth term in September's national election.

He described Sunday's election as a "great success" for Saarland's popular conservative governor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. The former European Parliament President has re-energized the center-left party with a promise to tackle inequality that is resonating with many voters nationally.

Mr Laschet faces an uphill task to oust a centre-left government in May in North Rhine-Westphalia, which is Germany's most populous state and Mr Schulz's home region.

"For Merkel, this is a positive start into the election year and should help to calm the mood within her alliance of Christian parties", said Carsten Nickel, a risk analyst at Teneo Intelligence in Brussels.

He said: "We have tail wind, but we haven't won anything yet".

Ms Merkel replied that Germany was "committed to this two per cent goal until 2024" and said her government was "going to work together again and again on this".

  • Sonia Alvarado