Federal Chancellery in Berlin.

Higher Voter Turnout in Germany's State Elections

Mainz, Germany – The voter turnout for Germany’s most important state elections this year seems to be considerably higher than five years ago during the last state elections in Rhineland-Palatinate (RP), Saxony-Anhalt (SA) and Baden-Württemberg (BW). People in all three states decide today on their new government.

The electorate turnout in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate was at 56 percent by afternoon - 13 percent higher than at the same time in the 2011 state election. The same goes for Saxony-Anhalt, where voter turnout hit 35.4 percent by 2:00 pm German time, marking an increase of seven percent compared to the 2011 elections in the eastern German state. In the southern state of Baden-Württemberg the voter turnout is about five percent higher than in the previous elections.

Julia Kloeckner, lead candidate for the German Christian Democrats (CDU) in Rhineland-Palatinate state elections, takes a photo with and old man at a polling station.

“Many voters are concerned about an electoral victory of the far-right AfD, which disturbs many Germans with proposing firing orders against refugees,” says Michael Völker, who voted early in the morning. “That’s why more people are going to the polls,” he concludes.

The so-called "Super Sunday" is widely seen as a referendum on Angela Merkel's open-door policy towards refugees, which saw more than 1.2 million people arrive in the Central European country last year. While the German chancellor favors a plan to distribute refugees across the 28 European Union member states, others want to impose a cap on new arrivals.

According to latest public-opinion polls, the right-wing AfD will overcome the five percent hurdle and gain its entrance into all three state parliaments. However, it seems to this moment that Angela Merkel’s party will either win all three elections with a slight edge or, at least, participate in the three new governments.

Winfried Kretschmann (C), incumbent governor of Baden-Wuerttemberg and member of the German Greens Party and his wife Gerlinde Kretschmann (R), cast their ballots in Baden-Wuerttemberg state elections.

“There have always been far-right sympathizers, that’s nothing new. But this year they are organized. That’s why the people in our state should go to the polls and vote for democracy and against demagogues,” says 22-year-old student Nina Richards.

“Today’s elections will decide on the future direction of federal policies and thereby also of the whole country,” she adds.

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