DW reports that Chancellor Angela Merkel is a big step closer to a fourth term while her SPD opponent Martin Schulz has been considerably weakened.
No, there are no primaries in Germany. And Germans cannot elect the chancellor directly.
But regional elections for state parliaments serve as crucial indicators. And Sunday’s vote in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, had a special significance – especially now, four months before the general election in September.
In this context Sunday’s election outcome – the defeat of the Social Democrats (SPD), the victory of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) – gives a boost to CDU chairperson and chancellor, Angela Merkel. And it’s a huge boost.
North Rhine-Westphalia was the SPD’s heartland, and the shift of power here counts more than anywhere else. The SPD held an absolute majority in this state for 15 years, from 1980 to 1995. Since 1966, the CDU has only managed to form a government for a single term, from 2005 to 2010. No wonder then, that German media are calling Sunday’s victory a “political earthquake.”