WORLD How Angela Merkel's understudy Armin Laschet took a step closer to Germany's top job


How Angela Merkel's understudy Armin Laschet took a step closer to Germany's top job


20:53, June 09, 2021

After weeks of neck and neck polling in a hotly contested race for the Saxony-Anhalt premiership, the party of Angela Merkel finished with a much needed win.

The Christian Democratic Union secured 37 percent of the vote, according to projected results, which is seven percent higher than during the last election in 2016.

"We have set a signal of where the 'center' is in Saxony-Anhalt, and what the voters really want," re-elected Premier Reiner Haseloff told supporters on Sunday.

North Rhine-Westphalia's State Premier Armin Laschet, candidate for Chancellor of his conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, thanks representatives during the regional assembly of the CDU in North Rhine-Westphalia after having been elected as their top candidate for the federal elections, in Duesseldorf, on June 5, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

Why is this regional election important?

The election was seen as a critical test for the CDU, which has lacked momentum in recent months in the lead up to September's national election.

Armin Laschet has taken control of the party from Angela Merkel ahead of her retirement and will be on the top of the ticket when voters head to the polls.

However, Laschet has not managed to lead his party to victory in recent regional elections, worrying some that he may struggle to do the same in September.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Minister President of Brandenburg Dietmar Woidke address the media following a meeting with regional leaders of eastern states at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany June 2, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

What does it mean for the Chancellorship election?

Technically, nothing. Voters were electing a new regional legislature that sets the policy agenda for Saxony-Anhalt's 2,208,000 residents.

However, Germany's regional leaders work very closely with the Federal Chancellor. For most of the COVID-19 pandemic, Germany's premiers were part of late night consultations about lockdown policies and the vaccine rollout.

Does this mean Armin Laschet is likely to win the election?

Political analysts agree: Sunday's success cannot be chalked up to the CDU's chairman and candidate for chancellor. Even within the party, Laschet has only been a modestly popular choice to succeed Merkel.

Recent polling has revealed he is a less popular choice than Annalena Baerbock of Germany's green party. For the first time ever, they are nominating a candidate for the chancellorship and are vying to play a major role in the next government. Polling has helped the Greens grab the nation's attention and will pose a significant challenge to the CDU to win a majority of seats.

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