BERLIN – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition suffered a new setback and Germany’s main opposition parties celebrated gains in a state election Sunday that came as Merkel’s unpopular government grapples with the eurozone debt crisis and other challenges.
The vote in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, a northeastern region where Merkel’s parliamentary constituency is located, was the sixth of seven German state elections this year. Most of those have gone poorly for the chancellor’s center-right coalition.
The center-left Social Democrats won 35.7 percent of Sunday’s vote – about 5 points more than five years ago.
The other winners were the opposition Greens, who have been riding high in national polls. They won 8.4 percent, entering the state legislature for the first time.
Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, however, slid to 23.1 percent from nearly 29 percent in 2006, its worst showing in the state. Its partner in the national government, the Free Democratic Party, slumped to just 2.7 percent.
Over the coming weeks, Merkel faces the task of swinging skeptical center-right lawmakers in Berlin behind the latest measures aimed at keeping debt-troubled eurozone countries afloat.
That adds to issues such as this year’s decision to speed up Germany’s exit from nuclear power, the country’s abstention in a U.N. vote on the no-fly zone over Libya, and constant internal feuding over plans for tax cuts.
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