germany - hesse election reaction (2018)
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Monday, 29 October 2018

(updated 0928 GMT)


The troubled administration of German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces increased internal pressure after her party and its junior partner in Berlin’s grand coalition government suffered historic voter flight in Sunday’s elections in the state of Hesse.


Unconfirmed reports from the German media Monday morning said Merkel has announced that she will not run for reelection as the head of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in December.  


Preliminary results in Hesse showed that Merkel’s centre-right CDU will be just barely able to renew its governing coalition in the state with the Green Party even though the conservatives suffered their worst showing since 1966.


The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the minority partner in the Berlin government, had its weakest result since Hesse elections recommenced following the end of World War Two.


In a note, Danske Bank said: “The poor readings in the state election could spill into national politics and weaken the ability of Merkel's government to advance important political reforms.”


The environmentally-oriented Greens gained significant ground in the balloting, and the anti-immigrant AfD party entered the Hesse statehouse on its second attempt, which means the far-rightists now have seats in all of Germany’s state parliaments.


The centrist losses in Hesse followed similar declines in Bavaria a fortnight ago. The centre-right Christian Social Union, part of Merkel’s conservative bloc in the Berlin government, lost its absolute majority in the Munich statehouse and failed to reach the 40pct mark with its worst performance since 1950. The SPD dropped to below 10pct, a post-war low.


ING Chief German Economist Carsten Brzeski called the Hesse results “disastrous” for the parties governing in Berlin, but he said Merkel’s coalition will remain in power, for the moment.


“The fact that the CDU is still likely to lead the next government of Hesse should hush any calls for imminent action in Berlin. The bigger risk is the continued fall of the SPD.


“However, comments by SPD chairwoman Angela Nahles, suggest that the SPD is preparing an ultimatum rather than a quick exit. The coalition had already agreed on a mid-term review next year. The SPD will put enormous pressure on this mid-term review and could use it as a trigger to end the coalition. This would be towards the end of next year.”


Eric Culp, LiveSquawk News - Frankfurt


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