Merkel fatigue: CDU’s dire results suggest Germany has had enough of Chancellor – expert

Angela Merkel may face 'disaster' in elections says expert

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Dr Louis Perron, a Switzerland-based political scientist and consultant, was speaking after Mrs Merkel’s party polled just 22.9 percent of the vote in Baden-Wuerttemberg, with the Greens taking an impressive 30.9 percent to retain control of the regional legislature, with Winfried Kretschmann re-elected as Minister-President. In neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate, they scarcely performed any better, taking 26 percent of the vote compared with 34.2 percent for the SPD.

It really is a blow. At least as big as expected, if not bigger.

Dr Louis Perron

Dr Perron told “It really is a blow. At least as big as expected, if not bigger.

“There is a combination of factors at play: There are local issues and players.

“For example in Baden-Wurttemberg, there is a hugely popular incumbent and the CDU is the smaller partner in the coalition, which is often a difficult position in which to shine.”

However, referring to the revelation that two prominent CDU politicians had earned large amounts of cash for helping companies procure mask contracts, Dr Perron added: “There are also nationwide factors at play.

“Some are short term: the scandal about the masks.

“Others are more structural: the dissatisfaction with the nationwide government.”

He explained: ”This is actually a medium-term trend that was covered by the coronavirus.

“For some time last year at the beginning of the pandemic, Chancellor Merkel gained in the polls as a crisis manager.

“This effect is largely gone and Germans seem back at being tired of the national government.

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“Who can blame them after almost 16 years of being governed by Angela Merkel?

“The sheer duration of the incumbency is an important factor here.”

Assessing the election results yesterday, CDU general secretary Paul Ziemiak acknowledged: “This is not a good election evening for the CDU.”

The CDU has seen its national popularity wane from 40 percent last June, when Germany was widely praised for its response to the coronavirus pandemic, to around 33 percent this month.

With Mrs Merkel due to step down as Chancellor after September’s federal elections, clouds of uncertainty are gathering, not least because it is far from certain who will replace her.

Armin Laschet is in pole position after winning the CDU leadership two months ago – but correspondingly, yesterday’s results are particularly disappointing for him.

Carsten Nickel, of political consultancy Teneo, said: “This is far from an ideal start to this election year for Laschet.

“Nervousness might increase within the CDU, but it is not yet obvious that the party will put all the blame at its new leader’s door.”

The loss in Baden-Wuerttemberg, where the CDU has been junior coalition partner to the Greens for the last five years, could help Mr Laschet’s Bavarian rival Markus Soeder.

Mr Soeder, the leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), is the preferred conservative choice for Chancellor among German voters and would be regarded as something of a unity candidate.

Mr Soeder and Mr Laschet want to settle the candidacy matter by May 23.

No German chancellor has ever come from the CSU.

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