Amid ‘mask scandal’, Merkel’s party loses votes in 2 states

Shaken by scandals involving the purchase of face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic, German Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s party suffered setbacks in two important states, according to projections made after Sunday’s elections ( 14).

The CDU (Christian Democratic Union), a center-right conservative party of which the Prime Minister is a member, lost three points in the Baden-Würtemberg region, coming in second, with 24% of the vote. In Rhineland-Palatinate, the CDU saw its vote drop by six points, to 26%, according to public broadcaster ARD.

If the forecasts hold true, Merkel’s party will have had its worst result in both regions. The elections have been closely watched as it is a parliamentary election year in Germany, in which Merkel’s successor will be chosen, who will step down after 16 years in government.

In Baden-Württemberg, an industrial state that was the birthplace of big companies such as Daimler, Bosch and Porsche, the Green Party won again with 32% of the vote, according to forecasts. The Greens have governed in coalition with the CDU, but the result this year, the best of the acronym to date, could push him into a union with the Free Liberal Democrats of the FDP and the center Social Democratic Party (SPD). -left, in a coalition. called “traffic light” in Germany – because of the colors of the three parts, respectively green, yellow and red.

In Rhineland-Palatinate, the SPD maintained the lead with around 34.5% of the vote. The state was also governed by a “traffic lights” coalition, which must be renewed, analysts said.

In both states, Merkel’s party ran against candidates without the same weight as its main opponents – Winfried Kretschmann, who has ruled Baden-Württemberg for ten years, and Malu Dreyer, current governor of Rhineland-Palatinate by the SPD.

The CDU plunged into crisis after lawmakers were accused of receiving bribes for recommending mask makers to the federal government or for negotiating business-to-business deals to increase orders for medical equipment. security.

Nikolas Löbel, of the CDU, resigned after revealing that his company had received a commission of 250,000 euros (1.65 million reais) for the purchase of security equipment. Another member of the government bloc, Georg Nüsslein of the CSU, is under investigation for corruption, also for profits from the purchase of protective masks. He left the party, but did not resign from his mandate.

In the wake of the scandal, the CDU demanded that the 240 bench members sign a declaration guaranteeing that they had not benefited from the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The slowness of the vaccination campaign also dampened the glow of Merkel’s leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic. After leaving the first wave of contagion as one of the most effective countries at containing the disease, Germany suffered a new spike in cases and deaths, had to redeploy unpopular restrictions and, despite being a vaccine manufacturer, was unable to speed up dosing.

Until this Sunday, the first European economy had administered 10.6 doses per 100 inhabitants, against nearly 40/100 in the United Kingdom, 30/100 in the United States, 14/100 in Denmark and more than 11/100 in Spain and Portugal.

The stumbling block in Sunday’s elections does not, in principle, affect the CDU’s national leadership in the national parliament election in September. Merkel’s party has a 15-point advantage on average in the polls and must retain the leadership of the next government.

But the electoral contraction is reducing the chances of the new party chairman, Armin Laschet, of securing the nomination to run for chancellor in the September elections. Chosen as the new CDU leader in January, Laschet is not a very popular politician and already faced the shadow of the current CSU leader, Markus Söder, Bavarian Prime Minister.

With growing popularity among voters, Söder also appeared in front of other CDU politicians in favor of party members to become prime minister. To date, however, the CSU, CDU’s “minority partner”, has never won a leadership appointment.

Besides the question of who will be the candidate of Merkel’s party to succeed her, there is no certainty about the composition of the forces that will come out of the polls in September. Until then, the CDU had allied nationally with the Social Democrats, but the expressive growth of the Green Party upset the political balance.

According to analysts, a resumption of the SPD’s votes could increase the chances that the Greens will seek a coalition on the left, with the Social Democrats and Die Linke (successor to the East German Communist Party).

UNDERSTANDING ELECTIONS

How important are national elections?

The polls are seen as a first test for the national elections, which take place in September and are expected to define Angela Merkel’s successor as Prime Minister of Germany.

Who are the main parties in this Sunday’s arguments?

The CDU (Christian Democratic Union), the center-right conservative party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Green Party and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD). They are also the biggest parties at the national level

What happened to Merkel’s party?

The CDU has lost its electoral share in both states, and it is speculated that it may cease participating in the ruling coalition in Baden-Würtemberg

Why has the CDU lost votes in these states?

In addition to competing with strong candidates in regional politics, Merkel’s party faces a nationwide corruption scandal. Members of the government bloc are accused of receiving bribes on contracts to purchase masks to fight the Covid-19 pandemic during the first wave of the disease, when they were in short supply.

Dissatisfaction with the slow vaccination campaign may also have exhausted the government

Does the retreat of the CDU in both states also indicate a decline in national elections?

Not necessarily, and the CDU has a large advantage in the most recent intent to vote polls for the September election. Christian Democrats represent on average 33% of the electorate, followed by Greens (18%) and Social Democrats (16%)

The weakening of Merkel’s party and the strengthening of the other two, however, could change the landscape of the coalition. The current government is a coalition between the CDU and the PSD, but there are those who defend a coalition with the Green Party. In addition, the Free Liberal Democrats, with 9%, and Die Linke (ex-Communist Party), with 8%, can also be true to the scale in different compositions.

Among the parties with enough votes to win seats in parliament, the only one that should not participate in coalitions is the AfD, a radical right (10%)

What is the impact of the regional elections on the choice of the CDU candidate for the post of Prime Minister in the September elections?

Usually, the CDU president is usually nominated as a candidate for prime minister in the bloc formed by Merkel’s party and its minority partner, CSU, in Bavaria. But current CDU leader Armin Laschet, elected president of the acronym in January, was already facing competition from CSU chief Markus Söder for the benefit of his supporters.

An upheaval in the political force of the CDU could further undermine its claims to be candidate for the head of government

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