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Merkel's party gets bloody nose in state elections

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily | Updated: 2021-03-16 07:25

In the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, State Premier Malu Dreyer (left) from the SPD, and Christian Baldauf, the CDU's top candidate, give a TV interview in Mainz, on Sunday. KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, was trounced in state elections on Sunday, suggesting a changing of the guard may be on the way.

With the clock ticking down to September's full national elections, the party's "historically" poor performance in voting for state governors could be a precursor for change after Merkel's 16 years in power.

Markus Blume, leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister party CSU in the state of Bavaria and Bavarian premier, told Bild Live: "The election results are so bad that you can't say 'just keep going'."

The Guardian newspaper reported on Monday the incumbent Green party premier of Baden-Wurttemberg state and the Social Democrat (SPD) leader of Rhineland-Palatinate state were both on course for easy wins, with the CDU a distant second.

The CDU had around 40 percent of the popular vote in June but only 31 percent today, according to a national poll published on Sunday by Bildam Sonntag.

The Guardian said the big winner could be the Green party, which lies in second place nationally behind the CDU.

Sky News said CDU's defeats reflected public disappointment with Merkel's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and with recent graft scandals within the ruling party.

The broadcaster noted the performance on the weekend will make life difficult for Merkel's successor at the helm of the CDU, who will replace her this year after she retires.

New CDU chief Armin Laschet and the person who was favorite to succeed her prior to the weekend's poor showing may lose out, The Times newspaper said, with the leadership race now thrown wide open.

Olaf Scholz, leader of the rival SPD party, told German media the results show the nation is ready for a future without Merkel and her party.

Scholz said: "I want to be chancellor. Today, it's become clear that this is possible."

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