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Merkel’s party scores strong win in state polls

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Angela Merkel

Kiel (Germany) :  Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives secured a strong win Sunday in state polls in northern Germany, early results showed, giving a boost to her bid to retain power in September’s national elections.

Voters in the small, northern state of Schleswig-Holstein on the Baltic Sea handed her CDU party 33.3 percent, while the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) clinched 26.5 percent, latest results showed.

The vote outcome marked a blow for the Social Democrats who had earlier this year seen a surge in support since new leader Martin Schulz was chosen in February.

But this enthusiasm appeared to be fading, and Schulz’s supporters are increasingly fearful that the momentum he had been surfing on will not carry him into the chancellery, which Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) have held since 2005.

The blow to the Social Democrats’ confidence also came one week ahead of a far bigger regional vote in their stronghold of North Rhine-Westphalia, also Germany’s most populous state.

– Schulz ‘sad’ –

Schulz expressed disappointment, saying: “This is something that goes under the skin and makes us sad. We all expected a better result.”

Merkel’s CDU meanwhile was confidently looking to next Sunday’s polls, where surveys show the conservatives and the SPD running neck and neck.

“A good election result gives us motivation to go on fighting,” said lawmaker Michael Grosse-Broemer, who heads the CDU parliamentary group in the Bundestag.

Merkel’s party has seen a comeback, after losing a string of state elections over the past two years as voters punished the German leader for her liberal refugee policy that allowed more than one million asylum seekers into Germany since 2015.

But with the pace of new arrivals slowing sharply, surveys show the conservatives gaining ground.

“The CDU is catching up regionally, and that lends momentum to Merkel ahead of the vote in North Rhine-Westphalia next week and before the national elections in the autumn,” said Spiegel Online.

The populist AfD (Alternative for Germany), which has railed against the migrant influx, scraped through on Sunday with 5.5 percent support, winning its first seats in the state parliament in Kiel, despite a vicious falling-out between moderates and hardliners inside the party.

The result was however a far worse showing than at the end of last year, when it was the third most popular party nationwide.

– ‘In good hands’ –

Beyond its significance as the last-but-one regional election before the September general elections, there were plenty of local peculiarities in Sunday’s vote.

Popular SPD state premier Torsten Albig, 53, has led a coalition of SPD, Greens, and local Danish minority party SSW since 2012.

His CDU challenger Daniel Guenther is 10 years younger and has been an energetic opposition leader in the regional parliament.

The centre-right group there has sparked debate across Germany in recent years with populist proposals like requiring pork to be served in school canteens — a nod to voters fearful of Islam’s influence on public life.

This year’s campaign has seen battles over education, policing and roads, a top concern in a state with a population of 2.8 million thinly spread across almost 16,000 square kilometres.

Another battleground is wind farm construction near residential areas — no small matter in a windy coastal region whose turbines are a key element in Germany’s “energy transition” away from nuclear and fossil fuels.

Both major parties sent their heaviest hitters to Schleswig-Holstein in recent days, with Schulz making appearances in Kiel and Luebeck on Thursday.

But his interventions have done little to counteract criticism that the former president of the European Parliament has so far failed to offer concrete attacks against Merkel and the right.

Schulz has an uphill battle ahead to defeat Merkel, a leader so popular that one CDU election poster in 2013 simply showed her fingers clasped in their habitual diamond shape alongside the slogan “Germany’s Future In Good Hands”.

AFP

Election

Gujarat election: EC orders repolling in 6 booths of 2nd phase on December 17

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Election
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New Delhi, 16 December: Election Commission on Saturday (16th December) announced repolling in 6 polling stations of Gujarat on Sunday. The polling stations include Vadgam, Viramgam, Daskroi, and Savli.

The Election Commission also informed that the counting of votes of 10 polling stations would be done through counting of slips in VVPAT. As the Presiding officers in 10 polling stations in Visnagar, Becharaji, Modasa, Vejalpur, Vatva, Jamalpur-Khadia, Savli & Sankheda didn’t clear from the Control units the votes cast during mock poll.

In the second phase of Gujarat election two of the booths where repolling will be conducted fall under the Vadgam seat where polling was suspended after ink marks were found on the election symbol of Independent candidate Jignesh Mevani on the EVM and a BJP candidate raised an objection.

WeForNews

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Punjab municipal polls on Sunday, all arrangements made

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Chandigarh, Dec 16: Punjab’s State Election Commission has made all arrangements for the smooth conduct of municipal polls on Sunday.

The ruling Congress, main opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance are contesting the polls December 17.

It would be the first big electoral outing for all three after the assembly elections in March.

“The process of voting to elect representatives to three municipal corporations and 29 municipal councils and Nagar Panchayats would begin on Sunday at 8 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.,” a spokesman of the State Election Commission said on Saturday.

The results will be declared on Sunday evening.

Polling would be held for the municipal corporations of Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala.

The election for the municipal corporation of Punjab’s largest city, Ludhiana, was not being held as the electoral rolls were not updated.

Polling would also be held for 327 wards of the 29 Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats.

Candidates in 90 wards have won unopposed, the spokesman said.

There would be a total of 873 polling stations in the state, having 1,938 polling booths. A total of 8,000 election staff and 15,500 police personnel would perform duties at these polling stations.

The Akali Dal-BJP and AAP have accused the ruling Congress of misusing its power in the run-up to the municipal polls.

A total of 413 candidates are in the fray in 85 wards of Amritsar where 769,153 voters will exercise their franchise.

In Jalandhar, 305 candidates are in the fray from 80 wards. The number of voters there is 560,261. In Patiala, election will be held in 57 wards in which 260,664 voters can exercise their franchise.

This is the first big election in the state after the Congress government, led by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, came to power after assembly poll results in March.

The Congress won 77 out of 117 seats in the assembly. The AAP finished second with 20 seats.

IANS

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Looking into Congress complaint against PM: EC

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Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha
Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha

New Delhi : The Election Commission on Thursday said it is looking into the Congress’ complaint of violation of the Model Code of Conduct by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad, and also clarified that it has not filed an FIR against Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress has accused the Prime Minister of breaking the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by taking out a ‘road show’ after casting his vote on Thursday.

“We have received this complaint in the afternoon, this is being examined and we will let you know,” Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha said in response to a question.

After coming out of the polling booth at Ranip, in Ahmedabad, the Prime Minister stood on the steps of the vehicle in which he was travelling and waved to the crowd on the road and showed his inked finger. He continued to do so for 10 to 15 minutes.

Sinha also clarified that the poll panel did not register any FIR against Rahul Gandhi for his TV interviews, and has only sent him a notice, seeking his response in five days.

“I would like to inform that yesterday morning a complaint had come about the interview being shown repeatedly on some channels. Due diligence was done. First of all no FIR has been filed against Rahul Gandhi,” Sinha said.

He said other complaints made by the Congress are also being examined.

He said the poll panel gave representatives of the Congress party time for a meeting, and heard the allegations that they had to make.

“Till about midnight, the Commission deliberated and even in the thick of elections, we immediately sought a report from the Chief Electoral Officer,” he said.

Sinha said the Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat sent a report by around mid-day on Thursday on “all points and allegations made by the delegation of Congress”.

“Based on that the matter is under examination. Commission will soon brief on that,” he said.

“Commission has to put in due diligence before taking a decision. The report had been received at mid-day, the entire Election Commission has been busy. The Commission is still doing deliberation on the report received from the Chief Electoral Officer. We will let you know as the Commission takes a decision on it,” he said.

IANS

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