Of the 87 members of the Saxony-Anhalt Assembly, Detlef Gürth is the one who holds the record for longevity with seven terms on the clock. Sunday June 6, he hopes to win an eighth. But, at 59, including thirty-one as a regional deputy, he has never feared an election so much. “Apart from that of 1998, I do not remember such a difficult campaign”, confides this Christian Democrat (CDU) who, on Sunday, could give up his seat to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
The reference to 1998 is not accidental. “People wanted Helmut Kohl to go away, and we paid dearly for it to the regional”, remembers Detlev Gürth. In the spring of that year, the CDU only obtained 22% in Saxony-Anhalt, 12 points less than in 1994. In the autumn, it lost the legislative elections and Helmut Kohl, who had been chancellor for sixteen years , had to give way to the Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder (SPD).
Twenty-three years later, is history in danger of repeating itself? Unlike Helmut Kohl in 1998, Angela Merkel has decided not to run for a fifth term as head of Germany. But, like him at the time, she has been in power for sixteen years, which makes the CDU fear a sanction vote in Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday, or even a possible defeat in the legislative elections on September 26.
With 2 million inhabitants in a country of 83, Saxony-Anhalt is one of the least populated of the sixteen Länder. But the difficulties encountered by the CDU there are the same as elsewhere in the former East Germany. “Here, our voters keep esteem for Angela Merkel, but they want another way of governing, less in the permanent search for consensus but with more voluntarism and determination”, summarizes Detlef Gürth, who evokes “An accumulation of worries and anger”, since “The refugee crisis [de 2015], the consequences of which we have not measured ”, until the Covid-19 pandemic, “With vaccination going far too slowly and curfew-type measures that make no sense in rural areas”, Passing by “The disintegration of the industrial fabric and its social impact”.
“Reconciliation of the social and the national”
Like those of the other Länder in the East, the CDU federation of Saxony-Anhalt wanted the very conservative Friedrich Merz to take the presidency of the party, in January, in order to succeed his old rival Angela Merkel, this autumn, in head of the federal government. It was ultimately the moderate Armin Laschet who won.
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