German Chancellor's Conservatives strengthen support in Saarland state election
00:48, Mar 28, 2017
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party has comfortably won an election in the small southwestern state of Saarland - a vote seen as a bellwether for the national election in September.
The "Schulz effect" has seen especially younger voters flock to the more than 150-year-old workers' party, which is now polling neck-and-neck at the national level with Merkel's conservative bloc.
Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) have headed the state government of Saarland, in southwest Germany, since 1999.
The party, which saw a boost in poll ratings with Schulz's nomination, fell far short of its hoped-for first-place finish and won too little support for a new left-wing government in the region of almost one million people on the French border.
"Election campaigns are distance races, not sprints", Schulz told supporters at SPD headquarters in Berlin. The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
A coalition between the CDU and SPD is the most likely outcome for Saarland.
"NATO is of prime importance for us, and it was not without very good reason that we said during our summit meeting in Wales that also Germany needs to increase expenditure".
But there was no concealing the fact that the Left Party had come up short in an important test of its appeal in western Germany. Continuing the so-called "grand coalition" between the two parties is now the only viable option. But the Greens, who would nearly certainly have to be part of any governing left-wing coalition at the national level, failed to clear the five-percent hurdle needed for parliamentary representation in the southwest German state.
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