Germany’s Social Democrats score victory in regional election

Baku, October 16, AZERTAC

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) scored a much-needed victory in a regional election Sunday, following a crushing defeat in last month’s national election.

Projections on Sunday evening showed the SPD winning 37.3 percent of the votes in Lower Saxony, Germany’s fourth most populous state, which was almost 4 percentage points ahead of their key rivals, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) at 33.4 percent, according to Infratest dimap.

It’s the first time since 1998 that the SPD has managed to become the strongest party in the swing state, and the surprise victory could help the party’s embattled chief Martin Schulz secure his standing after he led the party to its worst national election result in postwar history last month.

“For the first time … in 19 years, we will be the largest group in the state parliament,” said the SPD’s state premier Stephan Weil Sunday evening, “[Merkel’s] Christian Democrats are the clear losers of this election.”

The Greens won around 8.9 percent of the votes, ahead of the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) at 7.4 percent, and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) at 6.2 percent. The far-left Die Linke, at 4.6 percent, failed to clear the 5 percent hurdle necessary to enter the parliament.

Lagging behind in polls in Lower Saxony two months ago, the Social Democrats saw a surge in support as election day neared, running neck-and-neck, with the CDU just ahead of the vote.

For the last four years, Lower Saxony — a diverse swing state with an electorate of about 6.1 million people — has been governed by the SPD with the Greens.

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