Germany’s Merkel Says Election Loss Will Not Affect Austerity Stance

Posted May 14th, 2012 at 10:05 am (UTC-5)
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has acknowledged that her conservative party's loss in Sunday's legislative election in the country's most populous state was a “bitter, painful defeat,” but stressed that it would not affect her tough European austerity policies.

Ms. Merkel told a news conference Monday that the defeat in North Rhine-Westphalia state would not weaken her, as she grapples with a deepening European debt crisis.

Results show the opposition left-wing Social Democrats won 39 percent of the vote in the state, while Ms. Merkel's Christian Democrats won 26 percent. The Social Democrats will likely form a coalition with the Greens in the state.

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 on Tuesday.