Election in Saarland as sign of things to come?
After their clear victory in the Saaarland state election the conservatives are discussing a continuation of the grand coalition with the Social Democrats. Commentators assess what the election results in in one of Germany's smallest states augur for the German parliamentary elections this autumn.
Emotions can't replace a programme
The main German parties see the results of the state election in little Saarland as an indication of what could happen in this autumn's parliamentary elections, Lidové noviny observes:
“It is clear that for the Social Democrats, who fell far short of their goal, this was only a regional vote. No mention was made of where the locomotive driven by Martin Schulz - which was on track for an election victory in the autumn - suddenly came to a halt. The opposing side sees the success of current state premier Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as an indication of how the autumn election will go. After all, the voters chose a politician they know well and who is experienced and successful. … There is, however, one thing we can read from these results: to win you need to do more than generate emotions and expectations among voters, as the new leader of the Social Democrats is doing. That is not enough. Especially not if these things are supposed to replace a proper political programme.”
What exactly does the SPD want?
The election results in Germany's smallest state have put the ball in the SPD's court, Mediapart comments:
“The elections in Saarland will compel the SPD to give more details on its electoral platform and political direction. What exactly does Martin Schulz want? And how will he be able to correct Gerhard Schröder's neo-liberal agenda? And finally, will he openly commit himself to discussing content with the Left Party and the Greens in an effort to promote a union of the left as an alternative to the grand coalition? It is common knowledge that in his work so far Martin Schulz has tended to the right, that to win the chancellorship you have to occupy part of the centre, and that a far from negligible proportion of older West German voters - on the right and on the left - is still strongly opposed to an alliance with the left-wing protest party.”
Key vote of confidence for Merkel
The CDU's strong showing in the state elections in Saarland is an indication that the Germans will once again entrust Merkel with the chancellorship, The Times comments:
“The resilience of the CDU in Saarland is thus encouraging for Mrs Merkel's prospects. ... Widening inequality in Germany has given traction to the left, just as it has given impetus to populist currents elsewhere in Europe and the US. It is a vital question to which the SPD's answer appears to be to reduce Germany's economic efficiency. At a time when Britain's fortunes in particular, in exiting the EU, depend on selling more into overseas markets, this is not a reassuring prospect. Mrs Merkel knows that she needs to work hard to win German voters' support once more. A small but significant indication in yesterday's elections is that she is succeeding.”