Germans are voting in two state elections this Sunday, and the party of Angela Merkel may lose both of them, potentially setting the stage for defeat in September’s general election that will determine the next chancellor.

Merkel will not be running for a sixth term as the leader of the German government, but her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party is yet to choose their candidate. The CDU is suffering from a plunge in support due to the worse-than-expected rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and a recent corruption scandal involving party MPs. The regional election in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, which Christian Democrats are projected to lose, could set the tone for the September vote.

Baden-Wuerttemberg is home to around 7.7 million eligible voters and is an industrial powerhouse famous for its automakers. It was long considered a CDU stronghold, but one decade ago, the party was sidelined by Winfried Kretschmann, who became minister-president of the state in 2011, after his Green Party became a junior member in a ruling coalition. The popular politician remains in power and has a prominent influence on the entire party. He has managed to steer it away from a more radical environmentalist agenda, and towards left-centrism.

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