ANGELA Merkel’s Christian Democrats party yesterday lost the mayoralty in a state that will be a key battleground in the September national election.
Social Democrat Sven Gerich won election in the western city of Wiesbaden, which is the capital of Hesse state.
He defeated the incumbent Helmet Mueller of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats with a runoff ballot yesterday which gave him 50.8 per cent of the vote.
The loss to the centre left candidate is a blow to Merkel’s party as Hesse has traditionally swung between left and right, but the Christian Democrats have run it since 1999.
Despite a run of poor results in major cities for the Christian Democrats, which lost Frankfurt and Stuttgart state elections last year, recent opinion polls put the party’s popularity at 40 per cent, well ahead of the opposition Social Democrats.