Not completely positive, but way better news from the election in Lower Saxony state in Germany today - compared to the Austrian results and the German federal election of September. The right-wing party gets less votes than projected, but they're part of another state parliament now, which is of course a mess. But a smaller mess than expected and hopefully a signal for their overall development in the future.
Merkel's CDU party suffers election defeat in Lower Saxony
Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives lost a closely-watched state poll Sunday, weakening her hand as she embarks on complex coalition talks following a disappointing showing at last month's general election.
Martin Schulz's Social Democrats (SPD) came out ahead with 37 to 37.5 percent of votes in the western state of Lower Saxony, home to scandal-tainted Volkswagen, according to estimates released by public broadcasters ARD and ZDF.
Merkel's CDU party clinched 35 percent, followed by the Greens with 8-8.5 percent, and the liberal and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) with 7 to 7.5 percent.
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), fresh from winning its first seats in the national parliament, scored 5.5 percent, giving it a presence in 14 of Germany's 16 states.
The SPD victory will come as a relief to former European Parliament chief Schulz, who has gone into opposition after being humiliated in last month's general election and who oversaw three regional election losses this year.
The Lower Saxony vote took on outsized significance as it came just three weeks after a general election that handed Merkel's conservative bloc its worst result in decades, while marking a breakthrough for the far-right AfD.
Merkel still won a fourth term but in order to form a government she must now forge an alliance with the Greens and the FDP, a political poker game that could drag on well into 2018.
Commentators had warned that a setback in Lower Saxony would weaken Merkel's bargaining position as she begins the negotiations in Berlin on Wednesday. (...)