Center-right CDU heads to big state election win in Germany

VIENNA (AP) — The center-right Christian Democratic Union appeared headed for a clear victory Sunday in Germany’s northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, according to exit polls.

Sunday’s election for the state legislature was seen as a ballot box popularity test for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government amid its handling of the war in Ukraine. The vote appeared to give the CDU, the party of former Chancellor Angela Merkel — which is in opposition to Scholz’s government at...

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VIENNA (AP) — The center-right Christian Democratic Union appeared headed for a clear victory Sunday in Germany’s northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, according to exit polls.

Sunday’s election for the state legislature was seen as a ballot box popularity test for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government amid its handling of the war in Ukraine. The vote appeared to give the CDU, the party of former Chancellor Angela Merkel — which is in opposition to Scholz’s government at the national level — a strong victory after a string of electoral losses.

Exit polls for ARD and ZDF television put Sunday’s support for the CDU at 41% to 43%, well ahead of the other parties. Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats appeared to drop to third place behind the Greens, with exit polls showing them winning 15.5% to 16% compared with 17% to 19.5% for the Greens.

These exit polls indicate that incumbent governor Daniel Günther, whose CDU has led Schleswig-Holstein since 2017, governing in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats, is on course to secure another term in Germany’s northernmost state, home to approximately 2.9 million people.

The vote came after a turbulent few months for the Social Democrat’s Scholz, who took office in December at the head of a three-party coalition government with the Greens and the Free Democrats. In recent weeks, Scholz has faced criticism for his approach to the war in Ukraine.

Germany broke with tradition after Russia’s invasion to supply arms to Ukraine but has been criticized by Kyiv for perceived hesitancy and slowness in providing material.

Sunday’s election was the second of three state elections within two months that will set the political tone in Germany for the coming year.

In late March, Scholz’s Social Democrats secured a major victory in the small western state of Saarland, which the CDU had led since 1999. The most important vote, on May 15, is in Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia.

The vote is a bright spot for the CDU, which has suffered losses at the state and national levels in recent months. After last fall’s general election, the party was relegated to the opposition on the national level for the first time in 16 years.

Compared with five years ago, the CDU and the Greens on Sunday appear to have made significant gains while the Social Democrats sustained big losses. During the last state election in 2017, the CDU won 32%, followed by the Social Democrats at 27.3% and the Greens at 12.9%.

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