Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) scored a major victory today in elections held in North Rhine – Westphalia. That party defeated the Social Democrats (SD) in a major upset.
North Rhine – Westphalia is the largest German state and its heavily industrialized cities have for years been reliably in the Social Democrat column. The election is a major boost to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will be running in federal elections in September.
Voters in the area had grown frustrated with rising crime and increased congestion. Merkel had been under fire for how she handled the migrant crisis in Germany, but it appears voters there are willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and continue supporting her due to Germany’s improved international standing and extremely strong economy. Initial results gave 33% of the vote to the CDU and 31% to SD.
Martin Schulz, expected to be Ms. Merkel’s opponent in September, hails from North Rhine – Westphalia and the election was a serious blow to his chances. Local party chief of the SD’s resigned following the results, likely out of the hope that Mr. Schulz’s responsibility would be deflected.
Not only did Merkel’s party emerge as the victor, but she was one of the clear reasons why it did. A full 46% of CDU voters said she was the main reason they supported the party.