May 23, 2022

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Germany's conservatives are on their way to winning elections in the northern state

Germany’s conservatives are on their way to winning elections in the northern state

  • Conservative CDU leads 43.5% in early polls
  • Energy shift key issue in campaign amid Ukraine war
  • The election is seen as groundbreaking in the May 15 NRW election

BERLIN (Reuters) – The conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) won an election in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein on Sunday in a boost to the party of former Chancellor Angela Merkel that was ousted from government in federal elections last year.

A poll by infratest dimap showed that the Christian Democrats (CDU) received 43.5% of the vote, 11.5 percentage points higher than when the Schleswig-Holstein state election was last held in 2017.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s centre-left Social Democrats, the main party in Germany’s “traffic light” coalition with green environmentalists and the Liberal Free Democrats (FDP), slipped to 15.9%, fielding a largely unknown candidate.

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An exit poll put the Greens and the FDP, which have been in coalition with the CDU in Schleswig-Holstein since 2017, 18.1% and 6.4% respectively, meaning the Conservatives may be able to form a government there with just one of the Bipartisan. .

CDU general secretary Mario Zaga said the party would not make a recommendation from Berlin on how the country’s Prime Minister Daniel Ginter should proceed in deciding on a partner.

Analysts say the CDU’s stronger position in the state compared to the national level – with a 26% turnout after the worst-ever federal election result in September – is partly due to Gwenther’s popularity.

CDU sources told Reuters that another term for the 48-year-old, who polls show is Germany’s most popular country’s prime minister, could bolster the role of moderates within the CDU, in opposition to their right-wing leader Friedrich Merz.

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The South Schleswig Party (SSW), which represents the state’s Danish ethnic minority, received 5.8% of the vote, while the far-right Alternative AfD and the far-right Lenke party did not each receive the 5% needed to secure seats in the country. State Parliament.

Most important will be elections next week in Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, where the SPD and CDU are competing.

A Conservative loss in NRW, after losing in March in the small western state of Saarland, would be a huge blow to the party.

It would also make it easier for Schulze’s coalition of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP to pass laws in the upper house of the national parliament, where regional elections help determine the distribution of votes. Read more

Territorial issues such as the cost of childcare or property purchase taxes usually dominate these state elections.

But national issues are also a special focus this year in light of the tectonic shift in German foreign policy, energy and security since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

For example, Germany aims to accelerate the expansion of renewable energy to reduce its dependence on Russia as a supplier of oil and gas.

Located between the Baltic and North Seas, Schleswig-Holstein is one of Germany’s leading states in wind power generation, with more than 3,000 onshore and offshore wind turbines.

The Greens aims to increase the number of turbines and cut the minimum required distance between wind farms and apartment buildings, while CDU wants to increase the production capacity of existing wind farms without increasing their number.

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Schleswig-Holstein is also set to become home to one of Germany’s planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, the construction of which was advanced due to the Ukraine war. The Greens and SSW had previously opposed the project.

But they are not expected to object so vigorously anymore if they become part of the government given concerns about energy supplies, according to Christian Mayer-Heidemann, the state’s commissioner of civics education, a nonpartisan office.

Battery maker Northvolt plans to open a third giga-cell battery plant in the town of Heide in 2025, citing a rising state share of green energy.

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Additional reporting by Andreas Rink and Vera Eckert; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Katherine Evans and Diane Kraft

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