Thursday, October 14, 2010

Could State Election Spell End for Merkel?

Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats are facing abysmal poll numbers and could even lose control of one of their strongholds in a key state election next March. One conservative newspaper is speculating that, if that happens, Merkel could soon be on the way out.

Has the end of Angela Merkel's chancellorship heaved into view? After miserable poll numbers that show her coalition government losing support among German voters, the heavyweight conservative newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is now speculating on forces that could topple the chancellor after next March, when the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg holds state elections.

Baden-Württemberg is a stronghold for Merkel's party, the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU). Its CDU governor, Stefan Mappus, may lose anyhow -- in part because he supports an unpopular, multi-billion-euro renovation of Stuttgart's main train station, a project known as Stuttgart 21. Street protests against Stuttgart 21 have recently turned bloody, and there have been complaints about authoritarian measures by police.

Chancellor Merkel has made her position on the renovation clear in national budget debates: Not only is she in favor of Stuttgart 21, she's argued that the March elections would serve as a de facto referendum on the project. These remarks could make her vulnerable to discontent within the CDU if Mappus -- and the rest of the state's Christian Democrats -- fail to win. The CDU has been part of the state government in Baden-Württemberg for 57 years.

To read more: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,722997,00.html


Photo: Laurence Chaperon / www.bundeskanzlerin.de

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