Monday, May 14, 2012

Don't Read Too Much Into "Merkel's" Weekend Loss in North Rhine-Westphalia

From The Economist:

IT IS easy to get carried away with the results of yesterday's election in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany’s most populous state. It was the worst ever performance in the state for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which governs Germany and is headed by Angela Merkel, the chancellor. It was a triumph for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens, who will continue to govern the state, this time with a clear majority in the Landtag (state parliament).
Surely, say some, this is part of the left-wing, anti-austerity wave that swept François Hollande into the French presidency on May 6th and could knock Mrs Merkel out of power when Germany votes in the federal election in September 2013. Maybe Mr Hollande should be flying to Dusseldorf tomorrow to meet Hannelore Kraft (pictured), NRW’s re-elected premier, rather than to Berlin to see Mrs Merkel.

This is a little premature. The main reason for the CDU’s poor showing in NRW was not Mrs Merkel or her advocacy of Europe-wide austerity, but the awful campaign conducted by the party’s chief candidate, Norbert Röttgen, who is also the German environment minister. Mr Röttgen dithered about whether he would return to Berlin if he lost, which made his commitment to NRW look half-hearted. At one point, to Mrs Merkel’s horror, he claimed that the vote was a referendum on her management of the euro crisis. His Berlin colleagues quickly slapped him down....MORE