Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union won the last election in the sparsely populated state of 2.2 million five years ago. Recent opinion polls show that it faces a strong challenge from the far-right alternative to Germany, which ranked second in Saxony-Anhalt in 2016.
Incumbent Governor Reiner Haseloff, a member of Merkel’s CDU, is popular with state voters. A solid victory would also be seen as a sign that the party’s new leader, Armin Laschet, can expect support from conservatives and centrists in this fall’s national elections.
Alternative for Germany has benefited from anti-government sentiment in the state, which until 1990 was part of communist East Germany. The party has recently campaigned strongly against pandemic restrictions and its election posters urged voters to show their “ resistance ” at the polls.
Green environmentalists, who have been at the top in national polls, aim to reach 10% in Saxony-Anhalt, while center-left Social Democrats hope to stay above that mark. Both have been part of Haseloff’s ruling coalition for the past five years.
Haseloff has ruled out any cooperation with Alternative for Germany or the former Communist Left party.
Polls indicate that business-friendly Free Democrats may re-enter the state assembly after missing five years ago.