German Chancellor Angela Merkel may have job security at the moment, but her party, the Christian Democrats, suffered a decisive defeat in state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia on Sunday. Exit polling predicted that Germany's Social Democrats won the parliamentary elections in that state by a margin of 39 percent to the Christian Democrats' 26 percent. The Greens looked to take third place, with approximately 12 percent of the vote.
The outcome of the German state elections comes just a week after Socialist Francois Hollande became France's new president. Hollande's victory was largely seen as a reaction against austerity measures imposed by President Nicolas Sarkozy. Similarly, Sunday's elections in Germany are being viewed as an extension of that discontent, as Sarkozy and Merkel have been close allies in their approach to gaining control of Europe's debt crisis, as reported by CNN.
Here is some of the key information to emerge from the elections in North Rhine-Westphalia on Sunday.
* North Rhine-Westphalia is Germany's biggest state, containing one-fifth of its overall population.
* While the win by the Social Democrats will affect politics in that particular state, it will not affect how the federal parliament is run.
* North Rhine-Westphalia has leaned politically in the Social Democrats' favor for quite some time. It was a win by the Christian Democrats in 2005 that changed the balance of power in the state.
* While Merkel enjoys enormous popularity among Germany's general population, Sunday's results are the worst political finish for the Christian Democrats since World War II, according to a report by Deutsche Welle/DPA/DAPD.
* Merkel herself is up for reelection in 2013. She has already said that she intends to run for a third term in office.
* State Premier Hannalore Kraft, a member of the Social Democrats herself, will retain her position for another term following Sunday's elections. With her party's victory, she now has the chance to form a coalition government with the Greens. Previously, she has governed with a minority government instead, needing support from other parties to push through legislation.
* Following the defeat of the Christian Democrats on Sunday, the head of the North Rhine-Westphalia branch of the party, Norbert Rottgen, promptly resigned, telling media outlets that the party's losses were entirely his fault, according to the New York Times/International Herald Tribune.
Vanessa Evans is a musician, traveler, and freelance writer with an interest in European studies and events.
- Parties & Movements
- Social Democrats
- elections in Germany