Europe

Merkel ally sees 'tail wind' from German state election

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, turns her head as she listens to the opening address during an EU summit meeting at the Orazi and Curiazi Hall in the Palazzo dei Conservatori in Rome on Saturday, March 25, 2017. European Union leaders were gathering in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of their founding treaty and chart a way ahead following the decision of Britain to leave the 28-nation bloc. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, turns her head as she listens to the opening address during an EU summit meeting at the Orazi and Curiazi Hall in the Palazzo dei Conservatori in Rome on Saturday, March 25, 2017. European Union leaders were gathering in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of their founding treaty and chart a way ahead following the decision of Britain to leave the 28-nation bloc. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)  (The Associated Press)

  • Social Democratic Party, SPD, chairman and top candidate in the upcoming general elections Martin Schulz gives a statement after first projections of the state election in German state Saarland announced at the party's headquarters in Berlin, Sunday, March 26, 2017. Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party has emerged easily as the strongest party from an election in Germany's western Saarland state — an unexpectedly strong performance and a disappointment for her center-left rivals. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

    Social Democratic Party, SPD, chairman and top candidate in the upcoming general elections Martin Schulz gives a statement after first projections of the state election in German state Saarland announced at the party's headquarters in Berlin, Sunday, March 26, 2017. Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party has emerged easily as the strongest party from an election in Germany's western Saarland state — an unexpectedly strong performance and a disappointment for her center-left rivals. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)  (The Associated Press)

  • Christian Democratic top candidate Saarland governor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, right, and the top candidate of the Social Democratic party Anke Rehlinger attend a TV debate after the state election in German state of Saarland in Saarbruecken, Sunday, March 26, 2017. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party easily won an election in Germany’s western Saarland state on Sunday, an unexpectedly strong performance. (Uwe Anspach/dpa via AP)

    Christian Democratic top candidate Saarland governor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, right, and the top candidate of the Social Democratic party Anke Rehlinger attend a TV debate after the state election in German state of Saarland in Saarbruecken, Sunday, March 26, 2017. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party easily won an election in Germany’s western Saarland state on Sunday, an unexpectedly strong performance. (Uwe Anspach/dpa via AP)  (The Associated Press)

A senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's party says the conservatives' unexpectedly strong win in a state vote gives them "tail wind" for bigger upcoming elections.

Merkel's Christian Democrats easily beat the center-left Social Democrats in Saarland state Sunday. A tighter race was expected after the Social Democrats were boosted in polls by nominating Martin Schulz to challenge Merkel in September's national election.

Armin Laschet, a Christian Democrat deputy leader, told ZDF television Monday: "Everything that was said about the Schulz train rolling over everything and changing everything didn't come true."

The Saarland governor's popularity apparently made the difference Sunday. Laschet faces a tough task to oust a center-left regional government in May in North Rhine-Westphalia.

He said: "We have tail wind, but we haven't won anything yet."