Scholz receives a postponement of the election in Germany

Scholz receives a postponement of the election in Germany

Germany’s Social Democratic Party won a regional test election for Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday, giving him a break at a time when his popularity continues to wane amid the energy crisis.

The SPD Social Democrats won 33 percent of the votes in the second-largest state of Lower Saxony, the second-largest state in Germany, which they have led in a coalition since 2013.

They are ahead of the Conservative Party (CDU) of ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel (2005-2021), which, according to estimates by public television stations, receives around 28 percent of the vote.

Despite growing public dissatisfaction at federal level, Olaf Scholz’s party is benefiting from the good local image of the social democrat Stephan Weil, Prime Minister of Lower Saxony.

It saved him from the humiliation of another defeat after two bitter defeats by the centre-right party last spring in state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia (west) and Schleswig-Holstein (north).

– “Referendum” on Scholz –

This election in Lower Saxony is “very important” for Olaf Scholz, the German political scientist Karl-Rudolf Korte estimated on ZDF, because in view of the Ukraine war and the energy crisis it represents “a referendum on government policy”.

Nevertheless, the SPD is lagging behind in comparison to the previous state election in 2017, in which it achieved 36.9%. The Conservatives also achieved a result that was well below their performance in 2017 (33.6%).

In particular, the extreme right seems to have benefited, capitalizing on frustration and concerns about energy supply problems and rising prices: the Alternative for Germany (AfD) got 11.5%, almost double the number of votes before.

Its officials are calling for a rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin, since Germany cannot do without Russian gas.

They gathered several thousand supporters at a demonstration against rising prices in Berlin on Saturday. Their breakthrough is all the more significant because this movement is mostly established in the east of the country and is not very popular elsewhere.

German ecologists, members of Olaf Scholz’s governing coalition, are also making strong progress with over 14%, an increase of more than 5 points.

Based on the number of seats in the local parliament, the Social Democrats and the Greens are capable of forming a new majority that would replace the current coalition of SPD and CDU.

– inflation –

For Olaf Scholz, the result in Lower Saxony is a relief after the criticism from Germany: too hesitant support policy towards Ukraine, growing public fears of inflation, fears of a nuclear conflict in Europe.

Nationwide, the SPD has fallen well below the 20 percent hurdle in voting intentions in recent months, surpassed by the conservatives. And Olaf Scholz’s personal popularity melted away.

Rising energy prices pushed inflation to 10% in September, the highest in Germany in 70 years. In addition to falling purchasing power and a recession announced for next year, the leading European economy fears that its industrial structure will collapse.

Olaf Scholz recently tried to react to this by announcing a 200 billion euro plan to curb the rise in energy prices. He was well received nationwide, in Lower Saxony it was also an advantage in terms of electoral tactics, but provoked controversy throughout Europe, with the Berlin partners accusing him of going it alone, following his own interests and ignoring European solidarity.

The chancellor faces another difficulty: the FDP, third member of his coalition in Berlin, again recorded an electoral failure in Lower Saxony (5%), reviving internal debate about the usefulness for this right-wing movement of participating in a left-majority government.


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