Merkel's CDU suffers defeat in regional polls

Social Democrats win state elections in Lower Saxony, far-right AfD enters state parliament for first time

Merkel's CDU suffers defeat in regional polls

World Bulletin / News Desk

Ahead of contentious coalition talks at the national level, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats suffered an election defeat on Sunday in regional polls in the northern state of Lower Saxony, according to projections.

Merkel’s rival the Social Democratic Party (SPD) won the elections by boosting its support to 37.7 percent, up from 32.6 four years ago, according to projections by public broadcaster ARD.

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) only managed to win 33.7 percent, down more than 2 percent compared to 2013.

Stephan Weil, the SPD’s incumbent premier, said the Social Democrats will hold talks with all parties except for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) over options for forming a stable coalition government.

Weeks after becoming the number three party in the national parliament, the AfD also managed to win 6 percent in Lower Saxony, thus giving it seats in that regional parliament for the first time.

Sunday’s election defeat weakened Merkel’s hand ahead of talks in Berlin for a coalition government on the federal level.

Merkel’s CDU and its sister party CSU won federal elections on Sept. 24, but failed to secure an absolute majority in the Bundestag.

Her CDU/CSU bloc is facing tough talks as its potential coalition partners -- the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens -- differ on major issues such as Europe, migration, energy, and taxes.

Merkel said exploratory talks on forming a coalition government would begin on Oct. 18, with the CDU/CSU bloc holding separate discussions with the FDP and the Greens.

She said they are planning to hold a joint meeting with top officials of the four parties on Oct. 20.

The far-right AfD has been excluded by Merkel from any discussions.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Ekim 2017, 00:15