Merkel's Party Wins Big in German Election
Left decimated as chancellor gets a boost ahead of national vote
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2009 6:01 AM CST
Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party came in first in a state election in Hesse, a good sign for the chancellor ahead of a federal poll.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
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(Newser) – The right-wing party of Angela Merkel came out on top in a closely watched German state election last night, giving the chancellor a major boost ahead of a federal election later this year. In Hesse, home to the financial powerhouse Frankfurt, right-wing premier Roland Koch won a new mandate, while the left-leaning Social Democratic Party went down to its worst electoral result there since 1950.

As the Financial Times reports, the big winner of last night's vote was the small, free-market Free Democratic Party, which polled twice its previous score. Merkel currently leads an awkward "grand coalition" of right and left after her wafer-thin victory in 2005, but has said she hopes to govern with the Free Democrats in a new government after the federal election in September.