Ivanka Trump to attend women's economic summit in Berlin

Andrew Cummings
March 28, 2017

"And I think it also helped that the CDU made a clear statement about its preferences for coalition partners".

The two women now govern together in a "grand coalition" of the biggest parties, an alliance similar to Merkel's at the national level.

Mrs Kramp-Karrenbauer has been prime minister of Saarland since 2011. Instead, Merkel's Christian Democratic Union posted its biggest win in the state in 13 years, after a campaign that included raising the spectre of the anti-capitalist Left party entering the state government.

Merkel, who has headed three consecutive governments since 2005, is seeking to win a fourth term in office and the Saarland poll was widely considered a first test of her chances. Trump, perhaps struck by inspiration on his dozenth round of golf at Mar-A-Lago, reportedly asked aides to calculate how much German spending fell below two percent over the last 12 years-with interest. "If that's the case, the CDU can live with it very well". Even so, the poll put support for her CDU-led bloc only 1 point ahead of the SPD at 32 per cent, reflecting tightened polls nationwide.

Trump is relinquishing control of her lifestyle brand, but she retains ownership.

"The president has a very unorthodox view on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense spending", said a source close to Merkel. "And Sunday proved that".

The CDU got 40.7 percent of votes in the election for Saarland's state legislature, while SD managed a meagre 29.6 percent of the votes.

Martin Schulz, 61, is running against Merkel as a member of the SPD in the September 24 national election.

While Schulz managed to increase support for the SPD nationwide, premier Kramp-Karrenbauer's strong popularity in Saarland secured a victory for the CDU in the tiny state bordering France.

The SPD's Justice Minister Heiko Maas admitted the outcome was "disappointing" and conceded that "we had clearly hoped for a better result".

That may be the case, but for the moment at least, the SPD have lost momentum.

Commentators said the Saarland result indicated voters may be getting cold feet about that prospect.

The suggestion of an alliance of the SPD with the far-left Linke unnerves many voters in western Germany.

Schulz said that the Left Party had run particularly strongly in Saarland because one of their most visible representatives, former SPD chancellor candidate Oskar Lafontaine (in 1990), comes from there. "The SPD will recognize that it is still a long way to taking over the chancellery in September".

He said the debate over a possible red-red coalition had "obviously penalised the SPD" by frightening part of the electorate.

Schulz has campaigned on a platform that is viewed as an alternative to the right-wing populism that has swept Europe in recent times.

The Greens, which captured only 4.5 per cent of the ballots, will remain out of the regional chamber as they did not exceed the 5 per cent vote threshold.

Other reports by iNewsToday