Comfortable win for Merkel's party in state election

Comfortable win for Merkel's party in state election

Comfortable win for Merkel's party in state election

Her centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) took 40.7%, comfortably seeing off a challenge by the Social Democrats (SPD), who secured 29.6%.

The "Schulz effect" has seen especially younger voters flock to the more than 150-year-old workers' party, which is now polling neck-and-neck at the national level with Merkel's conservative bloc.

A loss for Kramp-Karrenbauer would have been a worrying signal for the CDU's national campaign and for two bigger state elections in May - in Schleswig-Holstein and Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, both now led by the Social Democrats.

Matthias Zeller, a 21-year-old Social Democratic activist, caused a stir in Germany when he enthused on national television that his party's new leader Martin Schulz was a "geile Sau" - which loosely translates as "sexy beast".

The unexpectedly strong performance in the state of Saarland in southwest Germany came as Merkel prepares to seek a fourth term as German Chancellor.

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Saarland is now run by a "grand coalition" of the conservatives and the Social Democrats, reflecting Merkel's alliance in Berlin.

If confirmed, the result ensures the CDU will return at the head of a state coalition with the Social Democratic Party, mirroring the national government Merkel leads in Berlin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, turns her head as she listens to the opening address during an European Union summit meeting at the Orazi and Curiazi Hall in the Palazzo dei Conservatori in Rome on Saturday, March 25, 2017.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has received a boost ahead of elections in September.

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.

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Merkel, 62, had warned local voters last week that "red-red... experiments should be avoided" and urged them to stick with the CDU's "path of success".

The final crucial election in the European continent will take place in Germany on September 24th. He acknowledged that the Saarland outcome should not be "sugar-coated", but also said the election process "is a long-distance run, not a sprint", according to Reuters. Sunday's result means no other coalition is politically feasible.

"In uncertain times, the people trust in leaders and political forces that govern in a dependable way", he said.

In the past several months, some opinion polls have constantly showed Schulz will have the edge over his major competitor Merkel in the coming federal election.

However, the populist right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has played on dissatisfaction with Mrs Merkel's policy on immigration, did succeed in winning seats in the Saarland legislature with 6.2% of the vote.

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