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Sun May 13, 2012, 01:21 PM

Merkel's Party Routed In Big German State [View all]

Source: REUTERS

By Stephen Brown

DUESSELDORF, Germany | Sun May 13, 2012 12:49pm EDT

(Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives suffered a crushing defeat on Sunday in an election in Germany's most populous state, a result which could embolden the left opposition to step up its criticism of her European austerity policies.

The election in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), a western German state with a bigger population than the Netherlands and an economy the size of Turkey, was held 18 months before a national election in which Merkel is expected to fight for a third term.

She remains popular in Germany for her steady handling of the euro zone debt crisis, but the sheer scale of her party's defeat leaves her vulnerable at a time when a backlash against her insistence on fiscal discipline is building across Europe.

According to first projections, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) won 38.8 percent of the vote and will have enough to form a stable majority with the Greens, who scored 12.2 percent.


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/13/us-germany-election-nrw-result-idUSBRE84C09G20120513

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unkachuck May 2012 #13