Exit polls broadcast by local television on Sunday said that Christian Democratic Union was leading with 33 percent over SPD’s 26 percent in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein.
The early results meant that the SPD, which is trying to unseat Merkel and CDU from power in the September general elections, had lost its majority in the state of 2.8 million people. The social democrats have been ruling the state since 2012 in a coalition with other parties.
The polls are also a boost to Merkel’s bid to remain in power as chancellor for a fourth successive term. Merkel and the CDU have retained the key post since 2005.
CDU politicians were sure the win in Schleswig-Holstein could propel them to a more decisive victory in the next week elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.
“A good election result gives us motivation to go on fighting,” said Michael Grosse-Broemer, a lawmaker and head of CDU parliamentary group in the German parliament Bundestag.
North Rhine-Westphalia has traditionally been a stronghold of the SPD, a party which saw a surge in popularity after choosing Martin Schulz as its head earlier this year. But results of the Sunday vote showed that the party could suffer another blow next weekend.
SPD Deputy Chief Ralf Stegner described Sunday as “bitter day for Social Democrats,” saying the results in Schleswig-Holstein were “disappointing”.
CDU should now engage in talks with other parties to determine who would govern the northern state.