Germany: SPD in Saarland seeks to continue election momentum over CDU

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Germany: SPD in Saarland seeks to continue election momentum over CDU

The SPD’s Anke Rehlinger hopes to take the office of state premier from the CDU’s Tobias Hans

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Germany: SPD in Saarland seeks to continue election momentum over CDU

The SPD’s Anke Rehlinger speaks with the press on Sunday

Global Tech News Daily

Germany: SPD in Saarland seeks to continue election momentum over CDU

CDU State Premier Tobias Hans casts his ballot on Sunday

Global Tech News Daily

A state election Sunday in Germany’s western state of Saarland is the first test at the ballot box for Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) since the center-left party won the federal election last year.

Saarland is the first of several state-level elections in 2022, and the Social Democrats are hoping to continue adding to the momentum of the 2021 national elections, which dealt a historic blow to the Christian Democrats (CDU) at the federal level.

SPD chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government took office in December, leading a three-way coalition with the left-leaning Greens and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).


What is at stake in Saarland?

Opinion polls show the SPD is expected to perform well in Saarland and could move past the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) to become the strongest party in the state legislature for the first time in 23 years.

More than 750,000 voters are expected to cast ballots for the state legislature. Results will be reported Sunday evening. 

Since 2012, the two parties have governed Saarland in a conservative-led so-called “grand coalition.”

A poll published on Thursday by ZDF Politbarometer put the SPD at 41% of the vote compared with 28% for the CDU.

The SPD’s Anke Rehlinger is campaigning to become the state premier. She is currently deputy state premier in the coalition government led by the CDU’s Tobias Hans, who is currently trailing in polls.

Germany: SPD in Saarland seeks to continue election momentum over CDU

The SPD’s Anke Rehlinger speaks with the press on Sunday

If Rehlinger’s campaign is a success, a CDU-SPD grand coalition could remain. However, the conservatives would be relegated to junior status.

Located in a hilly forested region bordering France and Luxemburg, Saarland is one of Germany’s smallest states. Its state legislature with 51 seats is also the smallest in Germany.

Germany: SPD in Saarland seeks to continue election momentum over CDU

CDU State Premier Tobias Hans casts his ballot on Sunday

Why are state elections important?

State elections in Germany are important barometers of public sentiment and also determine the distribution of votes in Germany’s upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat.

While the “traffic light “coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP has a solid majority in the lower house, the Bundestag, conservatives hold 51 of 69 votes in the Bundesrat.

If the CDU were to lose those votes, that could make it easier for the coalition government to pass legislation.

Saarland is the first of three regional elections in 2022 in states run by CDU governors. However, with only 1 million residents, the Saarland does not hold much political weight in the Bundesrat.

A more critical test for the SPD will be the election on May 15 in Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia. Other bellwethers will be in the CDU-led northern state of Schleswig-Holstein when it goes to the polls on May 8, and in the northwestern state of Lower Saxony in October.

wmr/fb (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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