Merkel suffers 'nightmare' defeat in bellwether state
Defeat of Chancellor’s CDU in Lower Saxony boost rivals’ hopes of general election victory
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrats were licking their wounds today after suffering a narrow defeat at the polls in Germany’s second most populous state – a ballot viewed as a bellwether for the country’s general election this autumn.
Ms Merkel’s conservatives and their liberal Free Democrat coalition partners were ousted in Lower Saxony by an alliance of Social Democrats and Greens. They secured a one-seat majority in a cliffhanger election whose outcome became clear just before midnight on Sunday.
Looking distraught and tired, Ms Merkel told a press conference in Berlin yesterday that the result had “saddened” her party. Conceding that she had been clearly defeated, Ms Merkel added: “It is nevertheless difficult to accept such an outcome.”
Her conservatives had been confident of victory in Lower Saxony, where they had shared power with the Free Democrats since 2009. The alliance, which mirrored the coalition in Berlin, was led by the state’s Christian Democrat Prime Minister David McAllister, who has been tipped as a possible successor to Ms Merkel.
Commentators described the result as a “nightmare” for Ms Merkel as it came right at the beginning of a general election year. It was the third state election defeat in a row for the Christian Democrats in the space of two years. It came despite Ms Merkel’s record personal popularity. Polls show that 59 per cent of Germans think she is doing a good job.
“The outcome shows that nothing is certain. It means that the general election is likely to be a hard-fought battle for all parties,” an online editorial in Der Spiegel magazine said.
Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity
Unrest may spread across Europe, warns Red Cross chief
French government seeks to ban extreme right-wing group
BNP and EDL accused of attempt to fuel racial hatred after Woolwich terror attack
You want to get an Eton scholarship? All you need to do is answer four (not so simple) questions
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 3 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 4 Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims
- 5 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.