German state vote offers last test before national election

Voters in Saxony-Anhalt went to the polls Sunday to elect a new state assembly in what is seen as the last big test for Germanys political parties before a national election in September.

Chancellor Angela Merkels centre-right Christian Democratic Union won the last election in the sparsely populated state of 2.2 million five years ago. Recent opinion polls show it faces a strong challenge from the far-right Alternative for Germany, which came second in Saxony-Anhalt in 2016.

Incumbent governor Reiner Haseloff, a member of Merkels CDU, is popular with voters in the state. A strong win would also be seen as a sign that the partys new leader, Armin Laschet, can hope for support from both conservatives and centrists in this falls national election.

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Alternative for Germany has benefited from anti-government sentiment in the state, which until 1990 was part of communist East Germany. The party has lately campaigned strongly against pandemic restrictions, and its election posters urged voters to demonstrate their resistance at the ballot box.

The environmentalist Greens, who have been riding high in national polls, aim to reach 10% in Saxony-Anhalt, while the centre-left Social Democrats are hoping to stay above that mark. Both have been part of Haseloffs governing coalition for the past five years.

Haseloff has ruled out any cooperation with Alternative for Germany or the ex-communist Left party.

Polls indicate the pro-business Free Democrats may enter the state assembly again after missing out five years ago.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)

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