- Title: Far right to deal blow to shaky Merkel coalition in eastern votes
- Date: 28th August 2019
- Summary: POTSDAM, GERMANY (FILE - AUGUST 2, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF ELECTION POSTERS WITH PHOTOS OF INCUMBENT BRANDENBURG STATE PREMIER DIETMAR WOIDKE OF SOCIAL DEMOCRAT (SPD) AND CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS (CDU) OPPONENT INGO SENFTLEBEN
- Embargoed: 11th September 2019 17:09
- Keywords: state election Chancellor Angela Merkel coalition government Alternative for Germany AfD Saxony Brandenburg
- Location: COTTBUS & POTSDAM & LUEBBEN & RATHENOW & ARNSDORF & LEIPZIG & BERLIN, GERMANY
- City: COTTBUS & POTSDAM & LUEBBEN & RATHENOW & ARNSDORF & LEIPZIG & BERLIN, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA002AU4SLL3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The far right is set to make strong gains in two regional elections in eastern German on Sunday, potentially upending 30 years of rule by the two main parties and hastening the break-up of Chancellor Angela Merkel's national coalition.
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) is harnessing voter anger over refugees and the planned closure of coal mines in the region and has cast itself as the heir 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.
Polling at 25% in the right-wing bastion of Saxony, cradle of the anti-Islam PEGIDA movement and home to Chemnitz where a year ago Germany's worst right-wing riots in decades took place, the AfD is up from 9.7% in the 2014 state election.
Even if the CDU remains the biggest party, Premier Michael Kretschmer will be weakened and coalition building tricky given his party's antipathy to the Greens, also set for big gains.
Some members of the CDU, currently in coalition with the SPD in Saxony, have flirted with the idea of cooperating with the AfD but Kretschmer, and the federal party, has ruled this out.
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.
Heavy losses in state votes last year led Merkel, brought up in East Germany, to quit as CDU leader and announce this would be her last term. The SPD, which rules with the radical Left party in Brandenburg, sank into turmoil after its worst performance in European elections in May. It is hovering close to record lows and is still searching for a leader.
An Emnid poll in Der Spiegel weekly showed the AfD would win 24% of the vote in the east overall, compared with about 14% nationally.
(Production: Michele Sani)
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