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Merkel’s Party Soundly Defeated in Germany’s Largest State

Merkel’s Party Soundly Defeated in Germany’s Largest State


In another sign that European voters are increasingly rejecting austerity, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats suffered a huge defeat in the country’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia. Support for the Christian Democrats fell from 35% to 26% with the Social Democrats under Hannelore Kraft winning 38.9%. With the Green Party winning 11.8%, Kraft should be able to form a left-wing coalition to govern the state.

Kraft could be the candidate to lead the Social Democrats against Merkel’s party and even succeed her as chancellor. During the campaign, the Social Democrats called for strengthening indebted local communities, investing more in education and strengthening the state’s business environment.

German voters rejected Merkel’s insistence on fiscal discipline and austerity as the remedy for debt, just as voters in France, Greece and Italy have. Socialist François Hollande recently defeated Merkel’s close ally, Nicholas Sarkozy, in France’s presidential election. Hollande will travel to Berlin on Tuesday following his inauguration and, says the New York Times, the Social Democrats’ success will give him a likely boost and “confidence in the difficult negotiations.”

The Pirate Party, with its platform of internet transparency, received 7.5% of the vote, enough to win seats in North Rhine-Westphalia, which will be the fourth state parliament it will enter, says the BBC. The pro-business Free Democrats took 8.5% and the Left, 2.5%.

North Rhine-Westphalia is home to a quarter of Germany’s 82 million people. According to Bloomberg, its gross domestic product last year was about 470 billion euros ($607 billion), about 20 percent of Germany’s GDP; its economy is ranked just behind Turkey’s and is larger than Switzerland’s. Nine out of the 30 companies, including Metro AG and Bayer AG, on Germany’s DAX index are located in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Gerd Langguth, a Merkel biographer and professor of politics at the University of Bonn, noted to Bloomberg that, while Merkel will “seek to ignore” the results, the defeat is a “massive loss in local prestige” for the Social Democrats. The loss is being called a “debacle” and a “disaster” in the German media and portends a difficult re-election campaign for Merkel, though her own popularity remains high, says the New York Times.

“Indignants” Rally in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol

In Spain, the “Indignants,” who have been protesting the economic crisis and austerity measures, returned to Puerta del Sol square in the capital, Madrid, just hours after being evicted. Many proclaimed their support for eighteen people detained by the police who had cleared the square on Saturday night. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed to carry out harsh austerity measures — one “every Friday” — to combat Spain’s relapse into recession and unemployment of some 24%.

The “Indignants” have been holding marches across Spain to launch four days of protest, which will culminate on the anniversary of the movement’s birth, May 15, dubbed 15M.


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6:15AM PDT on May 15, 2012


5:32AM PDT on May 15, 2012

The Germans have followed the French in ousting the Right-wing conservatives with their austerity budgets. I hope we follow right along and defeat all the RepublicanTs in this country.

4:34AM PDT on May 15, 2012

Isn't it time the entire system was called into question? The only certain dividend capitalism delivers is misery for the 99%. See and

4:34AM PDT on May 15, 2012

Isn't it time the entire system was called into question? The only certain dividend capitalism delivers is misery for the 99%. See and

2:25AM PDT on May 15, 2012

Encouraging to see that more Germans are awake.

6:15PM PDT on May 14, 2012

Big Business = Big Money = Conservatism = Authoritarianism = Fascism

2:47PM PDT on May 14, 2012

I'm waiting for Rajoy to start taking down protests with live ammunition. Be right back to 30 years ago for Spain, but it'll remind people where they heard the idea that business should control everything before.

2:44PM PDT on May 14, 2012

It has been said that what is needed is a more European Germany and a less Germanic Europe, whether Frau Merkel's departure from office would achieve this is an interesting question.

Regarding changing the current regime of austerity which exists in many countries. The answer is clear, the very rich should pay more, the difficulty is that the very rich can so easily move their money around the world (Luxemburg is currently a favourite) to avoid paying the additional taxes need to get the economies of the world moving again.

Radical change is needed but world wide agreement needs to be achieved if it is to work.

1:28PM PDT on May 14, 2012


1:17PM PDT on May 14, 2012

Finally in Germany, land of blind obedience, the people have had enough of political chicanery. Revolutions over MOST of the world are people deprived of their voice in government taking control. US politicians take note!

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