German Parties Prepare for a Regional Election (in Photos)

The state election could serve as an effective referendum on Angela Merkel's government.
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People in the German state of Hesse—which includes Frankfurt, the nation's fifth-largest city, and close to 4.4 million voters—will head to the polls on October 28th for a statewide election. Pundits and politics-watchers are calling the election a referendum on Chancellor Angela Merkel's government.

Typically, Hesse's state elections don't draw this much attention. But Merkel's party, the Christian Democrats (CDU), lost its majority in Bavaria two weeks ago. Now, a loss in Hesse could indicate an even greater erosion of Merkel's authority.

Merkel is being challenged from the left and the right: The German Green Party is polling well and hoping to establish itself as a major centrist power, while the anti-immigrant, right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD)—Euro-skeptics who oppose Merkel—might enter Hesse's parliament for the first time.

CDU and its partners in the federal coalition, the Social Democrats (SPD), are polling below their usual numbers. But in Berlin, Merkel and her allies are trying to downplay the national importance of the election.

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Protesters walk in the smoke while demonstrating against rising housing rental prices on October 20th, 2018, in Frankfurt, Germany. Skyrocketing costs for housing have become a major issue in cities across Germany, with local government scrambling to find policy solutions. Frankfurt in particular is already attracting wealthy newcomers as the city becomes an alternative for companies in the financial sphere relocating from Brexit-afflicted London. In other cities, especially Berlin, foreign investors, including from China, are parking their money in luxury apartment purchases.

Protesters walk in the smoke while demonstrating against rising housing rental prices on October 20th, 2018, in Frankfurt, Germany. Skyrocketing costs for housing have become a major issue in cities across Germany, with local government scrambling to find policy solutions. Frankfurt in particular is already attracting wealthy newcomers as the city becomes an alternative for companies in the financial sphere relocating from Brexit-afflicted London. In other cities, especially Berlin, foreign investors, including from China, are parking their money in luxury apartment purchases. 

German Chancellor and leader of the German Christian Democrats (CDU) Angela Merkel speaks at a CDU Hesse state election rally on October 25th, 2018, in Fulda, Germany. Hesse is scheduled to hold state elections on October 28th, and so far polls indicate the CDU, Merkel's party, and the German Social Democrats (SPD) will fare poorly, while both the German Green Party and the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) can expect strong gains.

German Chancellor and leader of the German Christian Democrats (CDU) Angela Merkel speaks at a CDU Hesse state election rally on October 25th, 2018, in Fulda, Germany. Hesse is scheduled to hold state elections on October 28th, and so far polls indicate the CDU, Merkel's party, and the German Social Democrats (SPD) will fare poorly, while both the German Green Party and the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) can expect strong gains.

Election billboards show candidates in the Hesse state elections like Volker Bouffier, leader of the German Christian Democrats (CDU), and Thorsten Schaefer-Guembel, leader of the German Social Democrats (SPD), pictured on October 22nd, 2018, in Heuchelheim, Germany.

Election billboards show candidates in the Hesse state elections like Volker Bouffier, leader of the German Christian Democrats (CDU), and Thorsten Schaefer-Guembel, leader of the German Social Democrats (SPD), pictured on October 22nd, 2018, in Heuchelheim, Germany.

CDU Hesse Chairwoman Julia Kloeckner speaks during an election campaign stop of the Hesse CDU on October 22nd, 2018, in Heuchelheim, Germany.

CDU Hesse Chairwoman Julia Kloeckner speaks during an election campaign stop of the Hesse CDU on October 22nd, 2018, in Heuchelheim, Germany. 

Federal Green Party leading member Cem Oezdemir attends a campaign rally on October 22nd, 2018, in Offenbach, Germany. The Green Party could make major gains in the election, but things look similarly promising for the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Federal Green Party leading member Cem Oezdemir attends a campaign rally on October 22nd, 2018, in Offenbach, Germany. The Green Party could make major gains in the election, but things look similarly promising for the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Protesters demonstrate against rising housing rental prices on October 20th, 2018, in Frankfurt, Germany. Frankfurt, the largest city in Hesse, has a housing market that is being squeezed by foreign investors.

Protesters demonstrate against rising housing rental prices on October 20th, 2018, in Frankfurt, Germany. Frankfurt, the largest city in Hesse, has a housing market that is being squeezed by foreign investors. 

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