Germany's CDU set to win Schleswig-Holstein election
Berlin, May 09: Germany's center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) on Sunday looked set to win an election in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein.
With Germany's response to the Ukraine conflict playing on voters' minds, the poll for the state legislature was seen as a key test for Chancellor Olaf Scholz's government, led by scholz's center-left Social Democrats (SPD), after 5 months in office.
What are the projections?
An exit poll by public broadcasters ARD and ZDF put the CDU's support at 41% to 43%, well ahead of the other parties.
Scholz's SPD appeared to drop to third place behind the Greens, winning 15.5% to 16%, compared with 17% to 19.5% for the Greens.
Compared with five years ago, the CDU and the Greens appear to have made significant gains, while the SPD sustained big losses.
During the last state election in 2017, the CDU won 32%, followed by the SPD at 27.3% and the Greens at 12.9%.
If the exit poll holds, the CDU may be able to form a new state government in Schleswig-Holstein with only one other party.
Daniel Günther is also poised for a second term as the premier of one of Germany's smallest states, which borders Denmark.
Around 2.3 million citizens were eligible to decide on the composition of the state parliament.
CDU, SPD need a morale boost
The CDU, the party of former Chancellor Angela Merkel, is in opposition to Scholz's government at the national level and needed a strong victory after a string of electoral losses.
After last fall's general election, the party was relegated to the opposition on the national level for the first time in 16 years.
Both the CDU and the SPD were hoping for momentum to carry them into a more critical regional election in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) next Sunday.
NRW is Germany's most populous state and is currently in the hands of the CDU, although polls suggest support for the SPD is neck-and-neck.
A win in NRW would give a major boost to Scholz, who has had a turbulent few months since taking office in December as leader of a three-party coalition government with the Greens and the business-focused Free Democrats (FDP).
The chancellor has been under fire over what critics deem to be a stuttering response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, despite the government breaking with tradition to supply arms to Kyiv.
Some 65% of Germans said they did not find Scholz to be a strong leader, a poll commissioned by Der Spiegel last month found.
Investment in renewables takes center stage
Located between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, Schleswig-Holstein is one of the leading German states in wind power generation, with more than 3,000 onshore and offshore wind turbines.
The Greens aim to increase the number of turbines and cut the minimum distance required between wind farms and residential buildings.
The CDU wants to raise the production capacity of existing wind farms without further increasing their number.
Schleswig-Holstein is also set to become home to one of Germany's two planned liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals.
Construction of the terminals has been brought forward due to intense pressure on Berlin to reduce the country's reliance on Russian energy imports in the wake of the Ukraine war.