Angela Merkel’s CDU has taken a horrible hit in this weekend’s regional elections in the country’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, in what Bild is describing as a “catastrophe”.Key Merkel ally Norbert Roettgen, the government’s environment minister, came out with the CDU’s worst results since 1945 — just 26.3 per cent of the vote.
Roettgen had once been considered Merkel’s likely successor, but that is looking increasingly unlikely. Papers like Bild are now calling for his resignation from the government (he has already resigned from his local party’s position).
Merkel’s own national battle is only 16 months away, and her worry must be that Rhine-Westphalia is a bellwether.
Indeed, in keeping with recent elections in France, the big winners from Sunday’s election were the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens (the Pirate Party also made a good showing). In many ways, the vote’s result could be taken as an anti-austerity results, but, as analysis from Der Spiegel notes, the SPD’s policies are far from clear on austerity and the euro crisis.
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