Viernes, 19 Abril, 2019

Macron's election offers chance for more dynamism in EU: Merkel

Macron to Visit Merkel in Germany in First Foreign Trip as President Election in Germany's most populous state could boost Merkel
Cris De Lacerda | 15 May, 2017, 19:53

Hannelore Kraft, the former head of government in Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia, promised to quit her political career after the results of the elections in local parliament. The victory for Mrs Merkel's party will now give her a boost as she seeks a fourth term in general election in September.

Preliminary results showed Merkel's CDU receiving 33% of the vote in North Rhine-Westphalia, or NRW, followed by the Social Democratic Party's 31.4%.

"The CDU has won the heartland of the Social Democrats", said the party's secretary, Peter Tauber, hailing the vote as... Last month, Merkel's CDU landed a convincing defeat over the SPD in Saarland, and last week, the CDU took northern state of Schlewig-Holstein.

Social Democrats' top candidate Hannelore Kraft reacts to the first exit polls after the regional state elections of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Four months before the German election, an economic boom is buoying the national mood after the refugee crisis dragged down Merkel's approval ratings previous year.

Kraft said she took "personal responsibility for this defeat" before announcing her decision to step down.

Schulz left his position as president of the European Parliament in January to challenge Merkel.

He urged his party to focus on the September 24 vote, saying, "We will sharpen our profile further".

The western state, which includes Cologne, Duesseldorf and the Ruhr industrial region, has been led by the Social Democrats for all but five years since 1966.

A "grand coalition" would mirror Merkel's national government, in which the Social Democrats are the junior partners.

The exit polls showed the ruling center-left coalition of the Social Democrats and Greens taking a clobbering, with the two parties getting 30.5% and 6%, respectively, down sharply from five years ago. She visited North Rhine-Westphalia eight times prior to the vote and has put homeland security at the centre of campaign in a bid to attract public backing as the country faces continued security threats. The pro-business Free Democrats, eyeing a return to the national parliament in September after they were ejected in 2013, look set for a strong performance.

But Germany's best-selling daily Bild noted that "with the clear state election failures, it would be very hard for the SPD to win the general elections in September". Her SPD opponent Martin Schulz has been considerably weakened.

But defeats in two other state elections since late March have left the party trailing in the polls.

The nationalist Alternative for Germany won 7.4 percent, giving it seats in its 13th state legislature.

Some local media even dubbed it as "Shulz effect", and speculated Schulz might substitute Merkel since she lost momentum due to the migrant crisis.