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Elections

Merkel's conservatives win in eastern state of Saxony

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives have won the election in the eastern state of Saxony, but they will need a new coalition partner to govern.The anti-euro AfD is set to enter a state assembly for the first time.

The preliminary officials results of Sunday's election in the eastern state of Saxony gave Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) 39.4 percent of the votes, almost an entire percentage point below their 2009 result and the worst since German was reunited in 1990.

The Left party finished a distant second with 18,9 percent support, a slight decrease from five years ago.

More significant, however, was the fact that the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), who have been the junior partners in CDU Premier Stanislaw Tillich's incumbent coalition government, failed to clear the five-percent hurdle required to send deputies to the legislature. This was just the latest electoral setback for the FDP, which also failed to garner enough support to enter the Bundestag in last September's federal election.

The FDP's latest dismal showing at the polls means Premier Tillich is in the market for a new coalition partner, as the CDU's result, while strong, leaves it well short of a parliamentary majority.

Euro-skeptics make history

Also significant is the fact that the anti-euro Alternative for Germany (AfD) party easily cleared the five-percent hurdle, taking 9.7 percent, meaning it has won its first seats in any state legislature in the country.

The Social Democrats, who are coalition partners to Chancellor Merkel's CDU in Berlin, took 12.4 percent, a two percentage point increase compared to 2009.

The Greens will also have representatives in the new assembly, having taken 5.7 percent of the vote, while the extreme right wing NPD failed to enter the legislature, slipping to 4.9 percent.

Although mathematically Tillich could form a majority by entering either a coalition with the Left party or a combination of AfD and the Greens, observers expect him to team up with the Social Democrats, mirroring the grand coalition that Chancellor Merkel leads at the national level.

pfd/crh (dpa, AFP)

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