Merkel's CDU clings to power in Hamburg state poll

Other News Materials 25 February 2008 03:57 (UTC +04:00)
Merkel's CDU clings to power in Hamburg state poll

( dpa )- Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered a renewed electoral setback Sunday when it lost its absolute majority in Hamburg, though it remained comfortably the largest party in the northern German city-state.

There was strong speculation that incumbent CDU Mayor Ole von Beust would seek to govern Hamburg with the Greens, in the first such coalition in Germany at the state level.

Preliminary official results gave the CDU 42.6 per cent of the vote, down from 47.2 per cent in 2004. Over the last four years, the party has governed without a coalition partner.

The Social Democrats (SPD) saw their support rise to 34.1 per cent, up from 30.5 per cent four years ago, their worst result in the city-state since World War II.

The Greens secured 9.6 per cent and the new Left Party 6.4 per cent. The liberal FDP once again failed to clear the 5-per-cent hurdle needed to enter the state parliament.

Turnout came in at 62.2 per cent, down from almost 68.7 per cent in 2004.

The election provided further confirmation that the Left, formed less than a year ago and so far held at arms length by the established parties, has become a fixed part of the German electoral landscape. The party is a merger of a far-left splinter from the SPD and the former East German communists.

Drawing most of its support in the formerly communist eastern states, the Left Party now has seats in 10 of Germany's 16 state legislatures and is the fourth-largest party in the federal parliament, behind the CDU, SPD and FDP but ahead of the Greens.

Exactly four weeks ago, the CDU suffered substantial losses in the states of Lower Saxony and Hesse. In Lower Saxony, it remains in power in coalition with the FDP, while no majority coalition has yet emerged in Hesse.

At federal level, Merkel heads a broad coalition combining her conservative Christian CDU/CSU bloc with the SPD. The next federal elections must be held by September 2009.