German state vote tests Merkel’s authority


A German state election is putting Angela Merkel’s chancellorship on the line on Sunday as rarely before.
Voters in Hesse, a state that includes the nation’s financial center of Frankfurt, are going to the polls amid public antipathy to the bickering coalition government in Berlin. It’s the last electoral test of Merkel’s standing before a Christian Democratic Union convention in December, where she’s likely to face unprecedented challenges to her leadership of the party.
Polls suggest the CDU and the Social Democratic Party will slump to historic lows. A defeat in Hesse would inflame speculation about the staying power of Merkel’s national coalition with the SPD and, ultimately, the chancellor herself. With talk swirling in Berlin about options in a post-Merkel era, Sunday’s vote has national implications. Losing Hesse, where the CDU has governed with the Green party since 2014, could heighten the risk of a convention revolt against Merkel. Meanwhile, another post-World War II low for the Social Democrats might embolden those in the party who want to ditch Merkel’s government and regroup in opposition. “Our base case remains that neither of these two big risks will materialize,” Berenberg analysts led by chief economist Holger Schmieding said in a note. “But the risk is significant.”
If everything goes Merkel’s way, she’ll be re-elected in December to lead the CDU for another two years and oversee her fourth-term government until 2021.
As the chancellor campaigned across Hesse, CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer raised the specter of instability and an early election if the national government broke up.“Nobody can say 100 percent how stable it will remain when it comes to the dynamic of the individual parties,” she told a rally.

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