News ID: 291573
Published: 0212 GMT March 14, 2021

Merkel party braces for drubbing in German state polls

Merkel party braces for drubbing in German state polls

Election campaign placards of Malu Dreyer (R), federal state prime minister of Rhineland-Palatinate and Social Democratic party top candidate for federal state elections and her Christian Democratic Union party CDU challenger Christian Baldauf are pictured in Neuwied, Germany, on March 10, 2021.

Germans headed to the polls in two key regional elections Sunday, with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives bracing for a drubbing on anger over a corruption scandal and a series of pandemic setbacks.

The votes for new regional parliaments in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wuerttemberg are seen as a bellwether ahead of September 26's general election – which will be the first in more than 15 years not to feature Merkel, according to AFP.

Recent surveys have shown that support for Merkel's CDU/CSU alliance has fallen to a one-year low at around 30 percent as Germans sour on its coronavirus crisis management.

"Merkel's CDU is facing a disaster," the top-selling Bild tabloid said, calling the polls a "corona election".

Merkel's center-right CDU and its Bavarian CSU sister party have been roiled by damaging claims about MPs apparently profiting from face mask deals early on in the pandemic, forcing three lawmakers to step down in recent days.

Deepening the conservatives' woes is growing public anger about a sluggish and bureaucratic vaccination campaign, a delayed start to free rapid testing and stubbornly high infection rates despite months of shutdowns.

Germans could perhaps look past the "mask affair", Der Spiegel weekly wrote, "if citizens felt that the government was doing its job, protecting it from the virus and guiding it through the crisis. But it's not".

In Rhineland-Palatinate, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) have overtaken the CDU in opinion polls, paving the way for popular state premier Malu Dreyer to head another coalition government with the Greens and the pro-business FDP.

In Baden-Wuerttemberg, the only German state to have a premier from the Green party, the left-leaning ecologists have widened their lead on the CDU.

The Greens there currently govern together with the CDU, in what could serve as a blueprint for the first federal government of the post-Merkel era.

Opinion polls show the CDU headed for its worst-ever result in the affluent southwestern state.

Some German commentators have called the mask scandal the conservatives' "biggest crisis" since a slush-fund controversy in the 1990s ensnared former chancellor Helmut Kohl.





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