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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Schroeder's Party Crushed at Polls

BERLIN -- Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's party suffered a crushing defeat in two German state elections Sunday, reflecting a loss of confidence in his government's economic course despite broad support for his anti-war stand on Iraq.

The conservative Christian Democrats won 48 percent of the vote in Schroeder's home state of Lower Saxony, gaining 12 points over the last election five years ago to wrest the statehouse from the Social Democrats, exit polls and early returns compiled for ARD national television showed. The Social Democrats were at 33 percent, down from nearly 48 percent last time.

In Hesse state, the data showed the Christian Democrats surging to 50 percent from 39 percent in 1999, with the Social Democrats slumping to 27 percent from 39 percent. The surge in support left the Christian Democrats poised to drop a centrist coalition ally and govern the state alone.

Electing the two state legislatures, voters had their first chance since Schroeder's re-election last year to punish the government for postelection tax hikes, rising unemployment and a stagnant economy -- and they seized it.