From the TUC

Exit polls confirm tide against Merkel’s austerity

13 May 2012, by in International

The largest state in Germany – North Rhine Westphalia, with 18m people, over a fifth of the German nation – has been voting today and the exit polls suggest that the current minority red-green coalition of the SPD and the Greens will achieve an outright majority, with over 50% of the popular vote – exit polls say the Greens remained on 12% and the SDP regained the votes they lost in 2010, rising from 35% to 39%.

But the big story really has to be the continuing decline of Chancellor Merkel’s CDU, who – again, this is according to exit polls, and I’ll update later when the final tally is in – saw their vote decline by a quarter from 35% to 26%. With Germany’s General Election due next year, this almost makes Merkel’s administration a lame duck, and it can’t even be blamed on the collapse of her coalition partners the FDP (whose vote again held up, as it did last week in Schelswig-Holstein).

In Germany’s most populous state, covering cities like Dusseldorf and Cologne, this is a major blow, and, coupled with Hollande’s ascent to the French Presidency, will put German-led austerity in Europe under increasing pressure this summer. The 23 May informal summit of EU leaders will not quite see Merkel isolated, but certainly increasingly embattled.

By the way, a lot of the comment will focus on the entry into yet another state legislature of the ultimate post-modern fringe party, the Pirates, up from 2% to 8%. But as in Schleswig-Holstein’s regional elections last weekend, their entry into the legislature has seen the left-wing Die Linke party exit the stage. So yet again, Germany has given only minimal support to the narrative that says voters are abandoning traditional, centrist parties for the extremes.

TUC