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Germany

Schleswig-Holstein state premier resigns party leadership after court orders election rerun

Schleswig-Holstein's constitutional court has ruled that early parliamentary elections must be held by September 2012, two years early, saying seats were distributed wrongly after the last election in September 2009.

Schleswig-Holstein state governor Peter Harry Carstensen

Same procedure? Schleswig-Holstein state premier Peter Harry Carstensen casts his vote

A court in Germany's northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein has ordered elections within the next two years after ruling that seats won in the last polls were wrongly distributed.

In reaction to the court ruling, Christian Democrat State Premier Peter Harry Carstensen announced he was resigning as head of the regional CDU.

The constitutional court in Kiel on Monday upheld a legal challenge by three parties, including the Greens and the Left Party. In the last election the Christian Democrats were awarded extra seats, so-called Ueberhangmandate, after winning more constituencies than its share of the popular vote. The CDU and the FDP were able to form a government with three extra votes.

After the collapse of a grand coalition between the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, Carstensen was reelected for a second term as state premier on October 27 last year. He currently heads a center-right coalition with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP). The next election had been scheduled for the fall of 2014.

New generation

Carstensen has nominated Christian von Boetticher as his replacement as CDU party chairman in Schleswig-Holstein. If confirmed at a party convention slated for September 16, the 39-year-old will most likely be the CDU's top candidate in the regional elections.

Carstensen and von Boetticher told reporters that a final decision on his candidacy would be taken next year. Incumbent Carstensen would not be drawn on whether he would stand again.

The opposition Social Democrats have called for elections in 2011.

The constitutional court in Kiel ordered lawmakers to pass a new electoral law by May 2011after ruling that current legislation violated the constitution but emphasized that Carstensen's coalition government was legitimate.

Author: Nigel Tandy (AFP/dpa/Reuters)

Editor: Martin Kuebler

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