Monday, May 10, 2010

Defeat in Key State Vote Deals Merkel a Heavy Blow

Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and their coalition partner the Free Democrats have been voted out of power in Sunday's election in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The defeat will make governing harder for the German chancellor and could even see her being challenged as CDU leader.

In the end, her strategy did not pay off. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had refrained from taking any potentially unpopular decisions in the run-up to Sunday's state election in North Rhine-Westphalia in the hope of securing victory for her center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and their coalition partner of choice, the business friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), which also form Germany's coalition government in Berlin.

But as the results of Sunday's vote came in, it became clear that voters had dealt the CDU a heavy blow. According to provisional results, Merkel's party only got 34.6 percent of the vote, down from 44.8 percent in 2005. The FDP got 6.7 percent of the vote, meaning that the two parties do not have the majority they need to form a coalition government in the state.

It is not clear, however, exactly which parties will be governing the state. The SPD, which got 34.5 percent of votes, down from 37.1 percent in 2005, will not be able to form their preferred coalition with the Green Party, which got 12.1 percent. The Greens are in fact the only real winner of the election -- their result is almost twice the share of the vote they won last time around.

Crest of our home state North Rhine-Westphalia

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