Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

North Rhine-Westphalia's State Premier and the CDU candidate for Chancellor Armin Laschet and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speak prior to a party leadership meeting, in Berlin, on Sept. 13.

KAY NIETFELD/AFP/Getty Images

The centre-right candidate hoping to succeed German Chancellor Angela Merkel is celebrating his party’s narrow victory in local elections in a northern German state, two weeks before a national election in which he is struggling in the polls.

Sunday’s election for local councils in Lower Saxony state, in Germany’s northwest, offered Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party some cheer, even though such votes tend to have a very limited significance for the national political landscape. Nationwide polls currently show the CDU slightly behind the centre-left Social Democrats.

“The aim of the Social Democrats to become the strongest party in councils in Lower Saxony failed,” the CDU candidate for chancellor, Armin Laschet, told reporters Monday in Berlin. Deputy party leader Silvia Breher said the result is “an absolute motivation boost for our election campaigners.”

Story continues below advertisement

The CDU has been the strongest party in local council elections in Lower Saxony for about 40 years, although the state government has often been led by the Social Democrats, and is at present. In Sunday’s election, the CDU took 31.7% of the vote, down from 34.3% five years ago.

The Social Democrats finished second with 30%, down slightly from 31.2% in 2016. The environmentalist Greens increased their share of the vote to 15.9% from 10.9%.

The three candidates seeking to become Germany’s next leader – Laschet, Social Democrat Olaf Scholz and Green contender Annalena Baerbock – faced off Sunday in the second of three televised debates. Merkel announced in 2018 that she wouldn’t seek a fifth term.

A pair of polls after the debate suggested that it likely didn’t bring any decisive turnaround in a race in which Scholz, the experienced vice chancellor and finance minister in Merkel’s government, has bolstered his relative popularity amid doubts about his rivals. Both showed respondents scoring Scholz as the debate’s best performer.

Laschet, asked whether he is nervous that time is running out for him, replied: “Nothing is running out at all.”

Laschet on Monday spoke at a presentation of priorities for what he hopes will be a CDU-led government, which included reducing bureaucratic hurdles for infrastructure projects, helping families buy property and raising to six months the minimum sentence for assaults on emergency responders.

The final political TV debate will be held Sunday, a week before the Sept. 26 parliamentary election.

Story continues below advertisement

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies