German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives won a regional election in the western state of Saarland on Sunday, dealing a setback to their Social Democrat rivals and boosting her prospects of winning a fourth term in September’s national election. Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) strengthened their position as the largest party in the state despite expectations ahead of the vote that the Social Democrats (SPD) would be boosted by their new national leader, Martin Schulz. The CDU won 40.7 percent of the vote, up from 35.2 percent in the previous election in Saarland in 2012, preliminary official figures showed. The SPD slipped to 29.6 percent, down from 30.6 percent.
Prior to the election, polls had indicated that a left-leaning “red-red-green” alliance of the SPD, the far-left Linke and the environmentalist Greens — or even a “red-red” coalition if the Greens failed to win enough votes — could emerge after the vote.
But the Greens failed to reach the 5 percent threshold required to enter the state assembly, while the SPD and Linke, which won 12.9 percent, lacked enough votes to form a coalition on their own.
“The people decided on stability and reliability,” CDU Secretary General Peter Tauber said. “This result is a clear rejection of red-red-green.”