Germany will have its first test of the current electoral ‘super year’ on Sunday . The country faces a veritable marathon at the polls with a federal election culminating in September. The federal states of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate are the first calls to renew the parliaments from which their regional executives and heads of government will emerge.
Without no surprises, the parties currently in power will once again prevail at the polls: the eco-liberals of the Greens in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg and the social democrats of the SPD in the neighboring western state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
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In Baden-Württemberg, Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann’s Greens – the only eco-liberal regional head of government – could get up to 10 points apart from the CDU in what was once a Christian Democratic stronghold. Kretschmann, with a conservative profile, has shown that his party’s environmental program is not at odds with economic well-being and has clearly won the hand of the Christian Democrats; the CDU could reap its worst ever result in Baden-Württemberg on Sunday.
Kretschmann, who currently governs with the Christian Democrats, could also choose his future partner in the government and opt for an alternative coalition with Social Democrats and liberals from the FDP, thus leaving the Christian Democrats out of the regional Executive.
In Rhineland-Palatinate, polls have turned upside down in recent weeks: the SPD, with its Prime Minister Malu Dreyer in power for eight years, has come back in voting intention projections and could beat the CDU by three or four points of difference.
As in Baden-Württemberg, the Christian Democrats could also record the worst result in their history in Rhineland-Palatinate. The Social Democratic Prime Minister Dreyer aspires to renew the three-way coalition – with the liberals of the FDP and the Greens – with which she currently governs.
These two regional elections could hardly come at a worse time for Angela Merkel’s CDU : Conservatives have been peppered in recent days by several corruption cases involving federal deputies from the CDU and the CSU.
One of them resigned last Thursday for allegedly having received commissions from the autocratic government of Azerbaijan in exchange for promoting the image of the Caucasian country in Germany; two more deputies submitted their resignations days before for having received commissions from mask manufacturersin exchange for mediating in favor of the purchase of their products.
This last case, on which there are still investigations and could end with more resignations, has been baptized as ‘Maskengate’.
The neologism threatens to become a veritable nightmare for the conservative union of the CDU-CSU; Its leaders know that suspicions of corruption, added to criticism for the management of the pandemic and Merkel’s political farewell at the end of this term, could become an explosive political cocktail that returns the party to below 30% of voting intention at the federal level, where it was in February of last year before the arrival of the coronavirus.
For this reason, the president of the CDU, Armin Laschet , insists on reading this Sunday’s elections in a regional and not a federal key, hoping that the more than likely defeat will not have an impact on the polls for the September general elections . Laschet knows that his claim to run for chancellor is in serious jeopardy.