Merkel's conservatives win state vote as Germany enters election year

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

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right party cruised to victory Sunday in a regional election that analysts say was an early test of whether she will face any serious challenge when she pursues a fourth term as Europe's most dominant political leader in September.

The Christian Democrats (CDU) won 40.7% of the vote to the Social Democrats' (SPD) 29.6% in the small south-western state of Saarland, first official results showed.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, State Minister-President and top candidate of the Christian Democratic Union Party reacts after the Saarland state elections in Saarbruecken, Germany, March 26, 2017. The CDU has governed the state for 18 years.

The regional elections in Saarland are a barometer for the so-called "Schulz effect", after he was elected to head the SPD a week ago with 100 per cent of the votes of his party colleagues.

On the long road to the September 24 federal election, Saarland was a stage victory for the Christian Democrats.

"We have picked up support in the last few weeks, in Saarland too, and we are looking ahead", he said, promising to draw "the necessary consequences" for the two next two state elections in May.

The nationalist Alternative for Germany, or AfD, won 6.2 percent of the vote. Sunday's results in Saarland were certainly disappointing for the SPD, but the elections were admittedly very, very close.

Alec Baldwin Plays Both Donald Trump And Bill O'Reilly On 'SNL'
Baldwin's cameo Saturday night included more than just a Trump impression. "I don't think Bill did anything wrong". SNL also reflected the controversy over Jenner's appearance in a disastrous Pepsi advertising campaign.

Church Bombing North of Egypt's Capital Kills At Least 21
Mark, the apostle who brought Christianity to Egypt in the first century, a dozen years after the death of Jesus. In December, a bomb blast struck a church in central Cairo, killing more than 25 people and injuring scores.

Xi and Trump are both daring and ambitious
On Saturday, President Donald Trump and South Korea's leader, acting President Hwang Kyo-Ahn, spoke by phone. By launching the strike while Xi is in town, Trump may have added an another item to the list.

Saarland has only 800,000 eligible voters, but the election there was the first of three regional votes ahead of the September 24 federal vote and as such offered an opportunity for the parties to build - or lose - momentum in their quest to prevail at the national level. In the event, the Greens did not meet the 5 percent threshold to enter the state assembly.

Following the meeting in Washington, Trump tweeted that "Germany owes vast sums of money to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!"

They showed the Social Democrats receiving up to 30% of the vote.

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump met each other personally last week, the German chancellor's visit was not the ideal one, moreover, political observers called it the worst one in the history of the countries' relations.

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

The former president of the European parliament has increased support for the party by 10 points with promises to help socially disadvantaged people and end Merkel's near 12 years as chancellor. "Elections are endurance races and not sprints".

Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer is one of only five conservative governors in Germany's 16 states.