On Sunday there are regional elections in Germany that could give important signals on the leadership of Armin Laschet, the successor of Angela Merkel at the helm of the CDU, in view of the political elections on 26 September. Voting is in fact in Saxony-Anhalt, an eastern Land where in the last elections, in 2016, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party obtained 24 percent of the votes, becoming the second largest party in the region after the CDU achieving a result that a right-wing party had never achieved in contemporary Germany.
Saxony-Anhalt is the German Land with the lowest per capita income in Germany and the oldest population (average age is 47.9 years); it is located between Berlin and Hanover, has a population of 2.2 million and an economy based largely on agriculture. Local politics is strongly affected by this context and in itself does not affect national politics, but it is still important for the CDU to maintain its position as the first party in the Land.
In particular it is for Laschet, who at the congress to choose the new leader of the party presented himself as a candidate of greater continuity with Merkel, of centrist positions, and for this reason he does not seem to be particularly appreciated in eastern Germany, more oriented towards the right. At that congress Reiner Haseloff – a member of the CDU, president of Saxony-Anhalt and a party candidate also in these elections – supported another candidate and not Laschet.
Saxony-Anhalt is currently governed by a coalition between the CDU, the SPD (the Socialist Party) and the Greens. During the election campaign Laschet tried to get more votes for his party using the bogey of an AfD victory: “Anyone who wants to make sure we have clear democratic structures in Saxony-Anhalt must vote for Reiner Haseloff so that the CDU is the party stronger and the AfD is in its place, ie the opposition, ”Laschet said on the radio on Tuesday Deutschlandfunk. It could be a good strategy: according to a poll released on Thursday, the CDU would have 30 percent of the consensus in the region, the AfD 23 percent.
An election poster of the far-right AfD party vandalized in Magdeburg, the capital of Saxony-Anhalt, on 2 June 2021; after someone drew a mustache on candidate Oliver Kirchner’s face and wrote “Heirs of Hitler” on the billboard, the AfD added a sticker that says “Vandalism instead of arguments?” (AP Photo / Markus Schreiber, La Presse)