German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition faced a renewed setback with a resounding defeat in a state election and its main ally wavering over support for the government.
Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) plummeted nearly 12 percentage points from 2014 to 21.8 percent in an election for state assembly in the eastern state of Thuringia, according to preliminary results published early yesterday.
At the same time, the populist right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party more than doubled its standing and marginally beat the CDU at 23.4 percent.
The Social Democrats (SPD), Merkel’s junior coalition partner, also lost ground, shedding about 4 percentage points to 8.2 percent.
As a result, the incumbent Left party, which won the election with 31 percent, would no longer have sufficient support to govern Thuringia with its current alliance that also includes the Greens.
The result in the eastern German state reflects the increasingly splintered political spectrum in Germany, where traditional centrist parties have been losing steadily.
The refugee crisis, climate protests, and more recently an economic slowdown and geopolitical tension in Europe’s backyard have fueled rifts among and even within political parties.
“Since 1949, we have not had such a result, where the parties of the democratic center in Germany are unable to form a government,” CDU candidate Mike Mohring told reporters in Erfurt on Sunday night. “This is a really bitter result.”
It is the latest sign of trouble for Merkel in the twilight of her chancellorship. Europe’s largest economy has slowed sharply and is forecast to rise only 0.5 percent this year, from 2.5 percent two years ago.
At the same time, her designated successor, Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has failed to gain traction in her party, while repeatedly stumbling as she seeks to win back voters from the far-right.
Kramp-Karrenbauer, who replaced Merkel as chief of the CDU late last year, fueled animosity in the coalition when she proposed a peacekeeping force for northern Syria involving German troops without consulting the SPD.
“Given the strong showing by the far right, the CDU debate about the best path into the post-Merkel world is set to continue,” Carsten Nickel, analyst at Teneo Intelligence in London, wrote in a research note.
On Saturday, the SPD failed to end months of debate over whether to leave government. Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz, the only candidate who unequivocally backed staying in government, won a first-round party leadership ballot, but had only a narrow margin over the runner-up.
Taken together, various candidates of the leftist camp that favor easing Germany’s fiscal rigor and exiting the coalition got more than half of the vote, versus Scholz’s 22.7 percent. The run-off vote is scheduled to conclude on Nov. 30 and the party is to decide in December whether to stay in the coalition.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”