Comfortable win for Merkel's party in state election

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, State Minister-President and top candidate of the Christian Democratic Union Party reacts after the Saarland state elections in Saarbruecken, Germany, March 26, 2017.

"In uncertain times, the people trust in leaders and political forces that govern in a dependable way", he said. The former European Parliament President has re-energized the center-left party with a promise to tackle inequality that is resonating with many voters nationally.

He tweeted: "Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel".

Kramp-Karrenbauer also dismissed the idea that the election of Martin Schulz as SPD chancellor candidate and party chairman had revitalized the Social Democrats and given them a potentially decisive advantage in September's national election.

The unexpectedly strong performance in the election for the state of Saarland came as Merkel prepares to seek a fourth term in a national vote later this year.

The SPD has recently seen a surge in support under its new leader Martin Schulz, with some polls placing the party neck-and-neck with the CDU and even ahead of them for the first time in nearly 10 years.

The biggest win for the CDU in the state in 13 years provided a reality check for Martin Schulz, who has led the Social Democratic Party back into contention after it chose him as Merkel's main challenger.

Saarland is now run by a "grand coalition" of the conservatives and the Social Democrats, reflecting Merkel's alliance in Berlin.

Mr Trump is pushing the country and others to invest 2 per cent of their GDP in defence.

Trump has repeatedly complained that the U.S. provides the "lion's share" of funding for the inter-governmental military alliance, and that America has been "ripped off" by other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members, including Germany.

He said the debate over a possible red-red coalition had "obviously penalised the SPD" by frightening part of the electorate. For Schulz, the result was a return to Earth and a signal that coalition options for his party may be limited if it wins the national election.

It was, however, the AfD's worst result after five state elections in which it topped 10%, in a sign that the abating refugee crisis and bitter infighting have damaged popular support for the protest party.

The anti-immigrant, anti-EU Alternative for Germany polled just over six percent in Saarland, reflecting the once ascendant populists' recent slump all over the country.

"Election campaigns are marathons and not sprints, and we have good stamina", he said, warning the CDU that "those who are celebrating today shouldn't count their chickens before they hatch".

Deustche Welle quoted Schulz's reaction to the result in Saarland as saying "getting a goal does not mean the match is over".

  • Leroy Wright