Germany’s Lower Saxony regional election could weaken Angela Merkel

After Angela Merkel’s bitter-sweet national election last month, Sunday’s regional vote could have unwanted consequences.

Less than a month after Germany’s national election, the German state of Lower Saxony is going to the polls.

After the 2013 Lower Saxony election, Merkel’s CDU emerged as the largest party, but the state government was formed by the centre-left SPD and the Greens, who together had a majority. The CDU had previously led the region.

Like with national German elections, state elections use the mixed member proportional representation voting system, which ensures that regional parliaments are roughly proportional.

There have been six Lower Saxony-wide polls since September’s national election, all of which suggest that the battle for first place is tight, unlike polls for the national election, which put Merkel’s CDU way out in front.

The most recent three polls give the SPD a small lead, with the most recent one (Civey) putting them on 34.6, just ahead of the CDU on 31.8%. The poll also puts the Greens on 8.5% and the FDP on 8.9%.

Additionally, it looks as if the far-right AfD will gain representation in the state for the first time, with the most recent poll putting them on 7.8%. Last month’s national election was marked by their entrance the Bundestag for the first time ever, in which they won almost 13% of the vote.

On a national level, the CDU are still working to form a government with the pro-market FPD and the environmental Greens. The election has left Angela Merkel in a much weaker position. A second-place result to the SPD on Sunday would be an unwanted blow at a time when the party will be trying to project strength.

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