CDU Wins Saarland Polls against Odds

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, CDU Chairwoman in SaarlandBelying all expectations, predictions and surveys' results, the outcome of Germany's western tiny state of Saarland's election delivered an ambivalent mandate. It resumed CDU's government which lead in the polls by collecting 35% of the votes. This victory reinstated the regional CDU leader, Kramp Karrenbauer as state premier who dissolved the Saarbrucken assembly and called early elections in January this year. She termed her decision necessary in the wake of growing disintegration within her coalition partner FDP's local chapter and the resultant increase in its disapproval ratings.
This ostensible political gamble turned out to be a subtle political maneuver, as re-election of the CDU in Saarland resurrected its nationwide political image and brought a modicum of relief to Merkel's government. Most of the CDU's senior figures and political pundits are dubbing this electoral victory as a reflection of voters' endorsement of the Merkel-led coalition's handling of Euro crisis. Hence, the pathetic performance of FDP crashing out of another state Parliament for the fifth time consecutively, shook the ruling alliance at federal level.
On the other hand, the SPD camp is looking a bit disgruntled with the voter's verdict in Saarland as they were being put ahead of CDU in different survey polls and opinions. Albeit, SPD fared considerably well and secured 30% votes comparing to 24% in 2010. Their frustration with the poll's outcome is undoubtedly comprehensible as they remained triumphant during the last seven state elections.

The amazing performance of a new political entity, Pirate Party, baffled many political experts and compelled their critics to acknowledge them as a force to reckon with. They notched up 7.6 % votes and consequently made their way into the 51 member state assembly. Their mercuric rise since entering into Berlin's state assembly last year has defied all those who were considering them as shooting stars. It's particularly worrisome for the Greens whose electoral share could shrink in face of increasing scope of this new entrant in German political fray.

But the Sunday results of the poll pushed the ill-fated FDP further into existential crisis as it's their eighth successive electoral defeat in state elections within a span of one year. The party was reduced to the political fringe by virtue of securing merely 1.2 % votes in comparison to 9% obtained two years back. Such a sordid performance deprived FDP of parliamentary representation in Saarland as they fell short of the 5% threshold necessary to claim entry in parliament.
The other political forces like the left party and Greens retained their parliamentary presence. Indeed, the left party suffered a blow in the shape of a significant decrease in their electoral share. Their share plummeted from 21% to 16% which indicates that SPD managed to regain their traditional constituencies. The green party hardly managed to preserve themselves in the local political landscape by bagging votes slightly more than the 5% entry criteria into state parliament.

Even before the polls, political analysts were predicting the formation of a so-called grand coalition between CDU and SPD. Both parties holding divergent positions on federal level have already shown their willingness to enter into a coalition government. Numerically, the socialist variants, SPD and the Left party are in a position to make a coalition government. But SPD has already ruled out such a possibility owing to stark differences with former state premier and the Left party's local president, Oskar Lafontaine who defected from SPD in 2005 after developing policy differences with Gerhard Schröder led SPD government.
By all means, the results are reassuring for Chancellor Merkel who could now expect to have replication of same electoral performance in Schleswig Holstein and NRW polls due to be held on May 6 and 13 respectively. If her expectations come true in these two state polls, then it could be a harbinger of her party's success in federal elections in 2013. In this case, it would be nightmarish for SPD who, after claiming successive victories in state elections, seems upbeat and enthusiastic to turn tables this time in the coming federal elections.


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