Saturday

19th Aug 2017

Merkel suffers major defeat in German state vote

  • The result comes after Greek voters said No to austerity one week ago (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered a bitter defeat in a key regional election Sunday (13 May), in a result likely to make it more difficult for Berlin to continue to push austerity-only measures at the EU level.

Preliminary results for the parliamentary election in North Rhine Westphalia - the country's most populous state - showed that the centre-right CDU received 26.3 percent of the votes, roundly beaten by the Social Democrats who scooped 39.1 percent.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The Green Party picked up 11.4 percent of the vote meaning that the socialist governor, Hannelore Kraft, should now be able to form a majority coalition, having ruled a minority government for the last two years.

"It is such a great feeling to be ahead again for the first time in 12 years," said Kraft, who pushed the state further into debt but through creating more police and teaching jobs. She said it was a "clear signal" to Berlin.

The result - the worst showing for the CDU in the state since World War II - is a major political blow for Merkel, who had tried to paint the local government as irresponsibly running up debt.

German newspapers and centre-right politicians are portraying the defeat as dire and "catastrophic" with state elections due to take place in September next year.

Statements by those from within the CDU had raised the stakes further. Norbert Roettgen, the CDU's candidate in the state, in the run-up to Sunday's vote drew direct parallels between the internal debate in North Rhine-Westphalia and that of the more general debate contrasting prudent Germany versus profligate Greece, which has needed two bailouts.

It was a parallel that interested many outside Germany too.

Berlin, the eurozone's paymaster, has for the last two years demanded that all member states impose austerity measures to cut budget deficits. The message culminated in the recently-signed fiscal compact treaty, which enshrines balanced budgets into national law.

Sunday's defeat is likely to reduce Merkel's political authority for continuing to impose Germany's view of fiscal prudence across Europe.

The result also comes just a week after the Socialist candidate, Francois Hollande, won the French presidential elections. During his campaign, Hollande rejected Germany's one-sided focus on budget cuts and higher taxes. On the same day, the overwhelming majority of Greeks voted for anti-austerity parties in the country's parliamentary election.

In Brussels itself, meanwhile, the European Commission is strongly pushing a message of budget "consolidation" plus targeted investment. The two prevalent ideas on the table are project bonds, involving the private sector in funding investment projects, increasing the lending capacity of the European Investment Bank.

Twenty five EU leaders sign German-model fiscal treaty

Germany's vision of an EU of fiscally prudent states held in check by tight budgetary laws and the threat of legal action came a step closer on Friday when 25 leaders signed a new fiscal treaty.

Analysis

Visegrad lobby makes food quality an EU issue

Fico convinced the EU commission chief to take action in the perceived problem of discriminatory food practices, even though the evidence for the phenomenon is anecdotal.

EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7

The EU executive expects Warsaw to halt the judiciary reform and address concerns over the rule of law, and not to force out supreme court judges, or else the sanctions procedure will start.

EU Commission to act on Poland

The EU executive is likely to issue a new set of rule of law recommendations to Poland and start legal probes once the controversial pieces of legislation have been published.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides