Merkel’s Conservatives Trounced in German State Election

Posted May 13th, 2012 at 5:50 pm (UTC-5)
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives suffered an embarrassing loss in Sunday's legislative election in Germany's most populous state as she continues pushing for economic austerity in Europe.

Preliminary results show the opposition left-wing Social Democrats winning 39 percent of the vote in North Rhine-Westphalia. Ms. Merkel's Christian Democrats won 26 percent.

The Social Democrats will likely form a coalition with the Greens in the state.

The conservative candidate for governor, German environment minister Norbert Roettgen, calls Sunday's election a bitter defeat that really hurts.

Some German political analysts say the results in North Rhine-Westphalia may be a harbinger of next year's federal election, in which Chancellor Merkel plans to seek another term.

Ms. Merkel is still calling for economic austerity across Europe even after voters in Greece and France last week ousted parties that back deep spending cuts.

She plans to hold her first meeting with France's incoming socialist president, Francois Hollande, after his inauguration this week.