- Title: Parties in Germany hold final rallies ahead of regional election
- Date: 30th August 2019
- Summary: LEIPZIG, GERMANY (AUGUST 30, 2019) (REUTERS) HEAD OF CDU PARTY, ANNEGRET KRAMP-KARRENBAUER, AND LEAD CANDIDATE OF CDU IN SAXONY AND CURRENT PRIME MINISTER OF SAXONY, MICHAEL KRETSCHMER, ARRIVING ON STAGE KRETSCHMER WAVING TO AUDIENCE
- Embargoed: 13th September 2019 20:10
- Keywords: state election Chancellor Angela Merkel coalition government Alternative for Germany AfD Saxony Brandenburg
- Location: LEIPZIG, ORANIENBURG, KOENIGS WUSTERHAUSEN, POTSDAM, GERMANY
- City: LEIPZIG, ORANIENBURG, KOENIGS WUSTERHAUSEN, POTSDAM, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA003AUESGG7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Parties in eastern Germany on Friday (August 30) made a last-minute attempt to appeal to voters ahead of two regional elections.
In the elections on Sunday (September 1), the far right is set to make strong gains, potentially upending 30 years of rule by the two main parties and hastening the break-up of Chancellor Angela Merkel's national coalition.
While the AfD is convinced that they will be the strongest party in the regional elections, the other established parties hope to keep governing the two eastern states and called for a 'return to common sense'.
"Brandenburg does not deserve that," said Dietmar Woidke, leading candidate of the Socialdemocrats in Brandenburg and current prime minister of the state.
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) is harnessing voter anger over refugees and the planned closure of coal mines in the region and cast themselves as the heirs of the demonstrators who brought about the fall of the Berlin Wall three decades ago.
Double-digit gains for the AfD threaten Merkel's conservatives in Saxony and could mean her Social Democrat (SPD) national partners lose power in Brandenburg. The parties have led the respective states since reunification in 1990, mostly in coalitions.
The AfD is expected to take votes from both parties in the elections held two months before Germany marks 30 years since the fall of the Cold War's most potent symbol, the Berlin Wall.
The next few months will be crucial if the already rocky national coalition is to survive until a federal election in 2021, with attention on the eastern votes, including a third in Thuringia in October, and on policy.
The parties are due to review the coalition, weakened by rows over migrant policy, tax and pensions, by the end of the year. Many SPD members want to quit an alliance that has kept Merkel in power for 10 of the last 14 years and rebuild in opposition.
A collapse of the coalition could trigger a snap election or result in a minority government - unappealing options for stability-loving Germans. National polls put the conservatives first, with the Greens close behind and the SPD trailing neck and neck with the AfD.
The Greens have also made big gains in both states and may end up coalition kingmaker.
A big area of discord within the coalition is a major climate protection package and its financing, with some in the SPD wanting to ditch Germany's long-standing balanced budget policy, an unacceptable prospect to most conservatives even as the economy cools.
After some 2 trillion euros of transfers from West to East, inequalities persist between the regions, although the gap is narrowing. In 2018, economic output per capita in the East was 81.9% of the national average compared with 103.1% in the West.
(Production: Andreas Buerger, Leon Malherbe, Martin Schlicht, Holger Koerner, Ute Swart)
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