Germany eyes key Saxony-Anhalt vote

Photo: EPA

Germany expects the outcome of regional elections in the Eastern province Saxony-Anhalt held on Sunday. The results will have great influence of the expected national elections in September, Reuters reported. Depending on the outcome, the vote may pave a victorious way for Armin Laschet in his bid to succeed Angela Merkel as leader of the ruling German right wing Christian Democrats (CDU).

But all the attempts may be ruined by the far-right Alternative for Germany, which is also a strong contender to win in the province.

The INSA poll for Bild newspaper put Merkel's CDU party on 27%, up 2 points from last month. The AfD held steady at 26%, the poll showed. Other surveys in the state show a small lead for CDU of Laschet and Merkel, but AfD was running just lee than 1 percentage point behind in the final poll published on Friday. Though most polls give the CDU a more comfortable lead, an AfD victory could deal a potentially crippling blow to the centrist Laschet's electoral hopes, emboldening those on his party's right who want a decisive break from the Merkel years. Merkel, in power since 2005, is stepping down after the federal election, and senior CDU officials concede that it will be tough to retain their party's appeal to voters after 16 years in charge.

National polls show the surging Greens almost tied with the CDU, with both holding around a quarter of the vote, lending the poll in Saxony-Anhalt, a sparsely populated state of just 2.2 million, an outsized significance. The AfD typically performs better in the former communist east, where the economy is weaker than in the west. Its strength in Saxony-Anhalt has already focused debate on the CDU's relations with the political right.

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