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Germany’s Tories are on course to win the vote in the Northern state

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BERLIN — Germany’s conservatives are set to come out on top in regional elections in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein on Sunday, giving a boost to former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, which was ousted from the national government in federal elections. from last year.

The Christian Democrats (CDU) have a large lead in the polls in the state, whose nearly 3 million residents make up around 3.5% of Germany’s population.

A survey published by ZDF Politbarometer on Thursday put support for the CDU at 38% in Schleswig-Holstein, widening the gap with the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, who both stood at 18%.

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Analysts say the CDU’s stronger standing in the state than nationally – where it garners 26% of the vote after its worst federal election in September – is in part due to the popularity of the state premier. , Daniel Guenther.

Another term for Guenther, 48, who according to polls is Germany’s most popular prime minister, could strengthen the role of moderates in the CDU, as a counterpoint to their more right-wing leader Friedrich Merz, have CDU sources told Reuters.

After casting his vote at a polling station in Eckernfoerde, a relaxed-looking Guenther told TV reporters he hoped the sunny weather on Election Day would lead to a high turnout.

More important will be next week’s elections in Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), where the SPD and CDU are neck and neck.

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A defeat for the Conservatives in NRW, after losing in March in the small western state of Saarland, would be a blow for the party.

It would also allow Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition of the SPD, the Greens and the business-friendly Liberal Democrats (FDP) to pass laws in the upper house of the national parliament, where regional elections help determine the distribution of votes.


Regional issues such as the cost of child care or property purchase taxes typically dominate these state elections.

But domestic issues are also front and center this year given the tectonic shift in German foreign, energy and security policy since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

On the one hand, Germany aims to accelerate the expansion of renewable energy in order to reduce its dependence on Russia as an oil and gas supplier.

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Located between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, Schleswig-Holstein is one of Germany’s leading states for wind power generation, with more than 3,000 onshore and offshore wind turbines.

The Greens aim to increase the number of wind turbines and reduce the minimum distance required between wind farms and residential buildings, while the CDU wants to increase the production capacity of existing wind farms without increasing their number further.

Schleswig-Holstein is also expected to host one of two German liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, whose construction has been brought forward due to the war in Ukraine. The Greens and the South Schleswig Party (SSW), which represents the Danish ethnic minority, had previously opposed the plan.

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But they are no longer expected to strongly oppose if they become members of the government given concerns over energy supplies, according to Christian Meyer-Heidemann, the state’s civic education commissioner, a non-partisan office.

Battery maker Northvolt plans to open a third gigabyte battery cell factory in the city of Heide in 2025, citing the state’s high share of green power.

Schleswig-Holstein has been ruled since 2017 by a so-called “Jamaica” coalition of Conservatives, Greens and FDP – named after the party colors – which Guenther said he hopes to continue if he wins the election.

The next state coalition could also consist of only two parties, the CDU and the Greens or the CDU and the FDP, if a majority can be achieved without a third partner. (Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke and Vera Eckert, editing by Mark Heinrich)



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