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In Germany, the last electoral test before the end of the Merkel era, largely won by the conservatives

They feared a rout. The conservatives finally triumphed, Sunday, June 6, in Saxony-Anhalt. With 37%, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) largely won in this Land of the former GDR, far ahead of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which, with 20.8%, certainly achieved a very good score but did not achieve its objective: to arrive for the first time in the lead in a regional election.

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Because they were the last before the legislative elections of September 26, which will decide the name of Mr.me Merkel, these elections were eagerly awaited. And their results gave rise to a battle of interpretation between those who had an interest in giving them a national significance and those for whom it was preferable to put their significance into perspective by recalling that Saxony-Anhalt, with 2.2 million d ‘inhabitants, is only the eleventh most populous Land (out of 16).

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Not surprisingly, CDU Secretary General Paul Ziemiak was among the first. “For us, it’s a sensational good score”, he commented, Sunday evening, evoking “Buoyant winds for the legislative elections”. While it oscillated between 25% and 30% in the last voting intentions, the CDU gained 7.2 points compared to the regional ones of 2016 (29.8%). Since her landslide victory in 2002 (37.3%), she had never achieved such a score in Saxony-Anhalt.

Useful vote

How to explain such success? For some, the shock caused by a poll giving the AfD in the lead ten days before the election was decisive: while it feared a sanction vote, the CDU would have finally benefited from a useful vote by rallying in the last line right-wing voters above all eager to block the far right.

For others, it was the personality of his candidate, Reiner Haseloff, that was decisive. At the head of Saxony-Anhalt since 2011, this austere politician has never hesitated to express his disagreements with Angela Merkel, whether on his migration policy, considered too generous, or on his management of the health crisis, considered too restrictive. More conservative than the Chancellor but refusing any cooperation with the AfD – unlike some CDU elected officials in the region – he has cleverly acted as the spokesperson for voters in the East in the face of « Berlin », accused of neglecting “New Länder” resulting from reunification. In 2019, it is the same strategy that allowed his colleague Michael Kretschmer (CDU) to be re-elected at the head of Saxony with a greater advance on the far right than expected.

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