An Unexpected Win for Merkel’s Party


BERLIN — Voters in Germany’s northernmost state, Schleswig-Holstein, handed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party an unexpected victory in a state election on Sunday, suggesting that Germans were willing to back the center-right in a year when the chancellor is seeking a fourth term.

Local issues like education, traffic and security dominated the race, in which the largely unknown Daniel Günther, 43, led Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union to victory. The loss was the second in a row for the incumbent Social Democrats, after another state, Saarland, voted the conservatives into power in March.

“Nobody will argue that the Christian Democrats are the clear winners tonight,” said Mr. Günther, the party’s top candidate in Schleswig-Holstein, who will now face the task of forming a government. “We won with clear points that spoke to voters.”

The Christian Democrats won about 32 percent of the vote, while the Social Democratic Party trailed with about 27 percent, and the Green Party finished third with about 13 percent, according to official preliminary results.

The Social Democrats expressed disappointment with the results. “It is something that gets under your skin and makes us all sad,” Martin Schulz, the party’s leader, told supporters at its headquarters in Berlin. “We had counted on a better result.”

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