Germany's Merkel suffers important state election blow

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by ASusilovic, May 9, 2010.

  1. The Christian Democrats (CDU) on Sunday suffered a bruising election defeat in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, robbing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition of its majority in the upper house of parliament.

    Merkel's conservatives won 34.5 percent, according to exit polls by public broadcaster ARD, which would be their worst result ever in the state. The CDU's coalition allies the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) won 6.6 percent, leaving them well short of a majority.

    The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) also garnered 34.5 percent, the environmentalist Greens took a record 12.5 percent, and the socialist Left party likely managed to get its first seats in the state legislature with 6.0 percent.

    “This election evening is bitter for both CDU in North Rhine-Westphalia and me personally,” said the state's conservative premier Jürgen Rüttgers, who hinted he might try to pursue a coalition with the SPD or Greens in the coming days.

    “We’ll have to wait and see who’s ahead at the end of the night. North Rhine-Westphalia needs a stable government and that cannot happen with extremist parties,” he said, referring to the possibility the SPD could link up with the Greens and the hard-line socialists from The Left.

    The head of the SPD in the state, Hannelore Kraft, hopes to succeed Rüttgers as premier, but it was not immediately clear if her preferred coalition with the Greens would be able to eke out a majority.

    “I’ll think we’ll come out ahead in the end and it will be enough for red-green,” Kraft said, referring to the two parties’ colours.

    The CDU plunged in the polls since the last election in 2005, when they scored 44.8 percent. But the SPD, which governed the state for the previous four decades, has also lost support, having scored 37.1 in 2005.

    The result, if confirmed, will make it considerably harder for Merkel to push key reforms through the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament that represents Germany's 16 federal states. It could stymie efforts including sweeping tax reforms she believes are needed to revitalise Europe's top economy.

    The timing of the election could hardly have been worse for Rüttgers' Christian Democrats, who have governed the state with the FDP since 2005. Most Germans oppose the €22.4 billion ($28.6 billion) in loans Berlin agreed to offer debt-wracked Greece only two days before the state election.

    The outgoing government in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) mirrored the same centre-right coalition Merkel has in Berlin, making the poll a damaging referendum on her government eight months after she won re-election.

    The state is also home to the Ruhr rustbelt region, which has seen economic misery deepen during last year's deep recession.

    A poll published Saturday showed that 21 percent of NRW voters said the Greek bailout would affect their ballot decision, according to a YouGov survey for the daily Bild.
  2. the Greeks are far reaching :p