In the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, a highly anticipated state election began on Sunday. This is the last test of strength among German parties ahead of the federal elections at the end of September. In most pre-election polls, Prime Minister Rainer Haselov’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU) was the strongest party with nearly 30 percent of the vote. The right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (Alternative for Germany) party came in second.
In one survey, the AfD, which is suspected of regional links in Saxony-Anhalt with right-wing extremism, was in the lead. Saxony-Anhalt, with a population of just under 2.2 million, is one of the smallest German federal states. Since German reunification in 1990 and the resurgence of the disbanded East German states during the GDR era, the CDU has served as the head of government for most of the time. Haselov has been in office since 2011.
In the 2016 elections, the AfD became the second strongest party with more than 24 percent. The Black-Red Haselov alliance lost the majority. He then formed a three-party coalition with the inclusion of the Green Party, which in Germany was called the “Kenya Alliance” because of the party’s colors (black – red – green).
According to opinion polls, it is likely that Haselov will continue this alliance. However, other groups can also be envisaged, as the Liberals (FDP) are now more likely to return to the Magdeburg state parliament after failing the five percent barrier twice. All parties agree to exclude cooperation with the AfD. In the CDU, this also applies to Die Linke, which emerged from the SED party of the German Democratic state and was the third strongest force in the previous elections.
The elections in Saxony-Anhalt are also the first state elections since the president of the CDU, Armin Laschet, was nominated as a joint candidate for chancellor by the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, CSU. He is victorious in an internal power struggle against CSU President Markus Söder, who has many supporters in Saxony-Anhalt. Laschet is fighting in the September 26 federal election to succeed long-time Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will not run after four terms and 16 years in government.
With the first television stations predicting the election outcome, polling stations are expected to close at 6 p.m., with the first predictions shortly thereafter. The initial official final result should be available around midnight.