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Conservatives' Loss in German State Election Is Blow to Merkel

15 Oct 2017 4:42 pm
By Andrea Thomas 

BERLIN -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party lost in state elections Sunday, weakening her position ahead of this week's coalition-building talks and giving hope to rival Social Democrats after recent ballot defeats, according to initial results.

The Social Democrats captured 37.2% of the vote while Ms. Merkel's mainstream conservative Christian Democrats won 34.9% support in the western German state of Lower Saxony, according to the results published by broadcaster ZDF.

Lower Saxony, home to car maker Volkswagen AG, is the first German state to vote for a new regional parliament since the German election in September.

The Social Democrats' win was partly due to the popularity of incumbent State Premier Stephan Weil, according to Tilman Mayer, professor of political science at the Bonn University, while conservative challenger Bernd Althusmann lost support over the past weeks amid his low profile and headwinds stemming from growing criticism of Ms. Merkel's policies.

The snap election in the state, which has with some 6.1 million voters, came about after the center-left government led by Mr. Weil lost its one-seat majority in July.

Sunday's result underlined the weakened stance of the German chancellor. Ms. Merkel's party has already suffered a blow in the national election that took place three weeks ago, winning most votes but at the same time scoring its worst result since 1949.

Write to Andrea Thomas at andrea.thomas@wsj.com
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 15, 2017 12:42 ET (16:42 GMT)

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