Merkel's party scores strong win in state poll

Merkel's party scores strong win in state poll

Merkel's party scores strong win in state poll

The Forsa poll, conducted for Stern magazine and broadcaster RTL before Sunday's regional election, showed support for the CDU unchanged at 36 per cent, while the Social Democrats (SPD), now the junior partner in Merkel's "grand coalition", gained one percentage point to 29 per cent. According to projections, the CDU received some 33 percent as compared with around 26 percent for the SPD.

NRW has been governed by a center-left coalition of the SPD and the Greens since 2010, with the Social Democrat Hannelore Kraft serving as state premier.

Beyond its significance as the last-but-one regional election before the September general elections, there were plenty of local peculiarities in Sunday's vote.

With more than a fifth of Germany's overall population, the state is now governed by a left-leaning alliance of the SPD and Greens.

The results marked a blow for the Social Democrats who had earlier this year seen a surge in support since new leader Martin Schulz was chosen in February. Polls have suggested that the Christian Democrats have narrowed what was a large deficit and that Kraft is likely at least to need a new partner.

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The CDU now faces hard coalition negotiations.

In March, voters in Saarland, Germany's smallest state, returned Merkel's center-right party to power with 40.7 percent of the vote.

Joerg Meuthen, AfD's leader, welcomed the result and said the party would do even better in state polls in North Rhine Westphalia next week and in the national election in September.

The SPD has been governing in coalition with the Green party and the regionalist SSW in the northern state since 2012.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party scored a major win in the elections in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein on Sunday, worldwide German state-run media Deutsche Welle reported.

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"This election will give Mrs Merkel and her conservatives a tailwind if they do well, or strengthen her challenger Martin Schulz if the SPD get a good result, so it will have a significant impact either way", said Ulrich von Alemann, a political scientist at Duesseldorf's Heinrich Heine University.

It dropped below the 5 per cent threshold for legislative representation in the 2013 national election but is expected to exceed that level in September.

As the opposition rides high, playing the law and order card, SPD-Green support has been squeezed by a resurgent liberal Free Democrats (FPD), and the rising far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AFD).

Both major parties have sent their heaviest hitters to Schleswig-Holstein in recent days, with Schulz making appearances in Kiel and Luebeck Thursday.

Speaking before boarding her blue campaign bus, Kraft lamented the SPD's loss on Sunday in Schleswig-Holstein in the far north, but said her campaign in NRW was going well.

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But his interventions have done little to counteract criticism that the former president of the European Parliament has been surfing a wave of euphoria - and profiting from his own relative newness in German national politics - rather than offering concrete attacks against Merkel and the right.

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