Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Merkel trounced in State Elections




In a startling turnabout, voters in Germany's most populous
federal Land, North-Rhine Westphalia, delivered a shattering blow to
Mutti Merkel's CDU party in last Sunday's state election, returning to
power SPD leader Hannelore Kraft and her Green/Alliance90 coalition
partners with a governing majority and endorsing Kraft's expansionist
State Budget which triggered the election when the CDU oposition 
voted against it.

Merkel’s CDU slumped to 26% in the election compared to 39% for
Kraft’s Social Democrats, bringing Kraft to national prominence and
showing that voters are ready to accept robust challenges to the Austerity
Mania and necronomics of the now defunct and discredited Merkozy era.

"The defeat is bitter and it really hurts," said the CDU's main contender Norbert Röttgen, who is also Merkel's Environment minister. He had faced off against Kraft in the poll, which was triggered after the minority state government unexpectedly fell when the regional parliament failed to pass a draft budget after just 22 months in power. Kraft had argued the need for public savings and focused on jobs, education and nursery places, while Roettgen took aim at the SPD contender for clocking up public debt. Röttgen's campaign ran into trouble when he failed to commit to staying in opposition in the region if he lost Sunday's vote. He later had to backtrack after reportedly irking party allies by saying the NRW vote was a referendum on Merkel's policy on Europe.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper said Kraft had won over people with her social policy.

"That she further increased the deficit despite growing revenues, people did not hold against her, quite the opposite. Obviously, the message from Düsseldorf to Berlin, is that the citizens are tired of the drive for consolidation," it said. The vote was the third regional election in Germany in eight weeks and comes only  a week after Merkel's centre-right coalition lost power in the state of Schleswig -Holstein.

 "Hannelore Kraft is a Merkel in red," wrote the Frankfurter Rundschau. Although their political positions on debt are polar opposites - unlike Merkel, Kraft doesn't have a problem with the government getting into debt. According to the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung in Heidelberg, Kraft has the potential be able to reconnect her party to its traditional values and grassroots ideals of social equality. Kraft "just might be the one to strengthen the Social Democrats belief in their own values. Since Sunday in NRW the SPD has become a party of mass appeal once again."

 The SPD has echoed calls by Hollande to place more emphasis on growth in the fiscal pact and Merkel, who needs a two-thirds majority in parliament to ratify the fiscal pact, will therefore need opposition support. "We put people at the centre," the SPD's incumbent state premier Hannelore Kraft said, who looked set to form another coalition with the ecologist Green Party but, this time, with a majority.


President Hollande arrived in Berlin today, just hours after being sworn in as new French president – something Merkel campaigned against, having had a close working relationship with his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy. Diplomatic niceties were observed but, at the press conference when their first official meeting had ended, Hollande shocked Merkel by announcing confirmation and extension of his agenda on renegotiation of the Austerity Treaty and that “everything will be on the table” at the EU council meeting on May 23rd next week.
 A central plank of Hollande’s election campaign was to put a brake on the austerity measures in the fiscal pact, and to add a growth element to it – something Merkel has previously categorically ruled out. Merkel's political position in Germany is now considerably weakened
as she needs SPD support in the Bundestag to get the Austerity Treaty ratified, support which is not forthcoming as the SPD is waiting to see what concessions Hollande can now get from
the EU Council meeting next week.

In only two weeks since the French elections, tables have turned with a vengeance against the former dominant Merkozy agenda resulting in sheer panic and disarray in the “Yes” campaign in the Irish referendum due on May 31. Austerity is now a dirty word in the public discourse here which has heated up significantly this week.

On RTE tonight, Cat Pox, former PD stalwart and serial pensioned 
ex-MEP, was allowed to deliberately misrepresent Hollande's 
stance and suggest that the Austerity Treaty would not be changed 
and further suggest that Hollande would oppose a left-wing Government
 in Greece after the new elections which are now pending there, 
whereas Hollande specifically and catergorically offered solidarity and 
support to Greece in resolving its problems within the EU and Eurozone.

This is just one example of the lies and deliberate misrepresentation of 
events in favour of the YES side in the forthcoming referendum here on 
the Austerity Treaty being propagandised by RTE News on a 
daily basis.

Áth Cliath/Dublin 15 Bealtaine/May 2012.

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