Merkel's CDU suffers severe setback in Hesse election

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German Christian Democratic Union (CDU)'s top candidate and Hesse State's premier Volker Bouffier (3rd L) speaks after the initial state election results of Hesse came out in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Oct. 28, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, suffered a great loss in Sunday's state election in Hesse, according to the initial forecast by the public broadcaster ARD.

Although CDU retained the biggest party but was reduced to 28 percent of the votes, a sharp decline from the 38.3 percent in the previous election.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD), CDU's governing partner in the federal government, got 20 percent, also downed from its 30.7 percent five years ago.

The centrist Greens were seen as the biggest winner, securing 19.5 percent of the ballots and making its record high in the state election.

The populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) got 12 percent, crossing the threshold and winning seats at the state parliament.

The regional election was closely watched and often stylized into a national trend by local media.

According to surveys conducted by Infratest Dimap, the Hessians evaluate their economic and political conditions as generally positive, but not with the work of the governing parties, which includes Merkel's CDU, its Bavarian sister party of Christian Democratic Union (CSU), and SPD.

Many voters obviously use the election to send a signal to the federal government and Berlin already felt the pressure.

Many blamed the low voter support for the CDU and CSU's in-fighting at the federal parliament Bundestag, where the CSU shifted greatly to the right, taking a hard line on migration issues.

The SPD, however, faced fiercer inner struggle even before the Hesse election, as many already urged the party leaders to design a roadmap to quit the coalition government since the cooperation with CDU greatly blurred its left-leaning ideology.

If this were to happen, Merkel would be left with a minority government and it also meant there could be an earlier federal parliament election.

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