Election victory for the Conservatives in Germany strengthens Laschet’s hopes for Chancellor

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: AfD federal spokesman Tino Chrupalla gives a speech at the last election rally of the right-wing extremist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) before the state elections in Saxony-Anhalt on Domplatz in Magdeburg on April 4.

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MAGDEBURG, Germany (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Conservatives saw an overwhelming victory in East Germany’s state elections on Sunday to bolster Armin Laschet, who hopes to succeed her in September’s general election.

The Christian Democrats (CDU) had an exit survey for the public broadcaster MDR with 36%, more than 6 points more than five years ago, and well ahead of the right-wing extremist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which was 22.5% , slightly compared to the last election.

Laschet, long-time Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, had an uncertain start to his election campaign and was faced with calls to take a right-wing extremist course in order to win back those voters who had been disappointed by Merkel’s 16 years of centrism.

Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff had presented himself in his vote as a candidate from the center around which opponents of extremism could rally.

“That will give us a boost for Berlin,” said the national-conservative parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus. “It is a victory for Armin Laschet.”

For most of the other parties, the results were disappointing, with the Greens, who are just behind the Conservatives across the country, only in the single-digit range in the state elections.

“Sure, we would have liked to have done better,” said her chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock.

Baerbock said the Conservatives benefited from voters gathering around the incumbent to thwart the extreme right, which was only a point behind the Conservatives in some opinion polls.

Haseloff said he did everything in his power to convince voters in the relatively poor region not to turn to the right.

“I have done everything necessary and possible to convince people that we need stability and a democratic center,” he told reporters in his hometown of Wittenberg, where Martin Luther nailed his 95 papal theses to a church door in 1517. the Evangelical Reformation ignited.

Merkel, who has been in office since 2005, is stepping down after the federal election, and high-ranking CDU officials admit that it will be difficult to maintain the attractiveness of their party after 16 years in office.

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