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CDU suffers historic loss in Baden-Württemberg

The Local · 28 Mar 2011, 08:11

Published: 27 Mar 2011 18:17 GMT+02:00
Updated: 28 Mar 2011 08:11 GMT+02:00

The environmentalist Greens and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) managed an unprecedented political upset in the wealthy southwestern state, which is normally a stronghold for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Official results showed that the Greens won 24.2 percent while the SPD took 23.1 percent.

The incumbent CDU and their pro-business Free Democratic (FDP) allies managed 44.3 percent between them, with the conservatives winning 39 percent and the FDP 5.3 percent.

Merkel's Christian Democrats have governed Baden-Württemberg since 1953, but anger over her nuclear policy in light of the Japan crisis as well as decisions on Libya and the euro angered voters in the run-up to the poll.

“We’ve achieved a historic election victory,” said Winfried Kretschmann, who is likely to become Germany's first state premier from the Green party. “I'd like to thank those that voted for us - especially those voting for us for the first time.”

In another state election in neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate, the Social Democrats looked set to stay in office, but will have to share power with the Greens.

The SPD won 35.7 percent of the vote, the CDU 35.2 percent, and the Greens 15.4 percent. The FDP, which won only 4.2 percent, failed to clear the five-percent hurdle to win seats in the Rhineland-Palatinate state legislature.

The outcome will increase the pressure on Germany's already embattled Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, the FDP leader, although analysts said Merkel's centre-right coalition was expected to survive.

“This is a difficult evening for us. We’re naturally disappointed by the election results,” Westerwelle said in Berlin. “Energy policy was decisive. It was a referendum about atomic energy and we have gotten the message.”

But beyond a crushing blow to morale in Berlin, the double state defeat will make it even harder for Merkel to pass legislation in the Bundesrat upper house and likely prompt fresh calls for her to shore up her conservative credentials.

But analysts said Merkel's coalition was expected to survive, mainly because the opposition is still too weak at the national level and her party lacks a viable challenger to her position.

"The CDU has no one," news weekly Der Spiegel wrote on its website. "It is chained to Merkel, at least until the next scheduled federal election (in 2013)."

Campaigning was dominated by the nuclear catastrophe in Japan, where officials Sunday discovered high radiation levels in water leaked from a stricken reactor at the Fukushima plant.

Calling Japan's crisis a "turning point," Merkel suspended for three months an earlier decision to extend the lifetime of Germany's nuclear reactors, four of which are based in Baden-Württemberg.

Story continues below…

Nuclear power is highly unpopular in Germany, and an estimated 250,000 people took to the streets across the country on Saturday to protest against the government's energy policy.

But the elections confirmed that voters saw Merkel's atomic reversal as an electoral ploy that cost her conservatives support while boosting the anti-nuclear Green party.

Baden-Württemberg's outgoing conservative state premier, Stefan Mappus, also faced massive protests against the unpopular rail project Stuttgart 21.

AFP/DAPD/The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

18:58 March 27, 2011 by Relaxed
As an observer of German society and politics, I have been staggered with the reaction of both the Goverment and the people to the Japanese problem. Selling out of geiger-counters within a few days of the first explosion at the atomic plant, "reviewing" the closure of old atomic power stations by Merkel though their life had been extended last year after reviews, national protests about the one of the cleanest forms of energy, all a total knee-jerk reaction from a nation which I thought were very calm and ordered. With potential electricity shortages later in the year if the head of the Energy Agency's assessment is correct, how will the industrial power of Germany be sustained?

And now the election resuslts predict the Greens to be holding power in B-W and R-H, with all that they have promised, the results reflecting the panic of the population to a serious but natural accident in Japan.
19:22 March 27, 2011 by cobalisk
without intending disrespect, you can't have been looking very closely then..

Germans have wanted nuclear power to end for decades and until last October they felt that they would get their wish in 2020. For the past decade Germany has operated with the understanding that Nuke power was drawing to a close and a separate peace was established.

When the current government binned the existing and reasonable plan for phase out ppl were upset and felt lied to. The crisis in Japan gave them not only a voice but an imperative to demand that the government be accountable on this issue. Merkel saw the writing on the wall and tacked to the correct course despite the huge loss of face it costs her.

In terms of predicting energy shocks or whatever, thats totally overblown, fear mongering and has no place in a civil, I repeat CIVIL society, which Germany thankfully is. :+)
19:41 March 27, 2011 by mashlakhito
I understand the reasoning behind wanting nuclear energy to be all but gone. However, what are the alternatives. Don't get me wrong, I am by no means in favor of such energy but realistically speaking what alternatives are there? I believe that recent governments have not invested sufficiently into developing alternative energies. So far, in my opinion, it has all been talk and "no" action when it comes to alternative energy. I would be interested to hear what others here, realistically, think would be the solution? Fossil fuels? Wind energy? Solar? Hydro?
20:14 March 27, 2011 by erkan
typical german knee jerk reaction merkal has done a better job than

any german leader in decades . Now they let the green party in and what happens next we´ll all be walking . Uhhh , except for the upper echelon of the green party of course .
20:17 March 27, 2011 by Sepul
You can't say there has been "no action" on alternative energy. Take a look in any German town or city and notice the large number of solar electricity panels. The government has provided solar subsidies to encourage this behaviour.

There is no single alternative, there are many. Depending on what is available in each region, a combination of electricity sources may be used. One thing's for sure, there has to be more investment for this to supply for the future.
20:23 March 27, 2011 by Relaxed
Merkels knee jerk reaction was a political in response to the populations panic and hystria about the events in Japan.

Yes we may be walking with the Greens coming to power and I hope the people will remember why they put them in power and be more level-headed in the future.
20:33 March 27, 2011 by ctsummerhead27
History shows that voting out of panic never brings any good. Recent examples: George W.Bush, Jose Luis R.Zapatero, etc.
21:05 March 27, 2011 by derExDeutsche
History will show that this too shall pass with the typical Bumbeling and Baffooning of the left. If you think the Centre-Right in Germany was bad? pop some corn get ready for a show.

Recent examples: Barak Obama. times about 10.
21:18 March 27, 2011 by theinfo
The nuclear accident was happened thousands miles away and yet the Germans are the only ones behaved like a bunch of scare children in the darkest night. Imagine if they were in the Japanese's shoes, how would they going to bahave??? That's a bunch of gutless, feeble people!!!

As for madam Merkel...the Americans were right on about our precious Chancellor, she is no doubt a "risk averse". The CDU oughta replace this gramdma as soon as possible. She is too timid to be germany leader!

As for the Greens, enjoy it while it's last, because there might not be another nuclear accident just before next election elsewhere so you can take advantage of. Let's see how much the Germans going to love you when there is a shortage of electricity that will lead to blackouts???
22:26 March 27, 2011 by Chicago1996
@theinfo: I think you are out of line with your comments. The nuclear debate has been raging on in Germany my entire life. It is not a new debate.

While I personally believe that we are not ready to leave the nuclear age behind, I can understand why people in Germany (in particular) are running scared. When Chernobyl happened, Germany was very much affected by the radiation. To this day, mushrooms and wild boar in Bavaria have high levels of contamination in them. Some are even too toxic to eat.

I have a feeling the government is running scared, because deep down it knows that their nuclear sites aren¦#39;t as safe and secure as they would like the public to believe. I¦#39;ve read several articles now that talk about the crime and corruption that took place during the construction and later running of these facilities. From politicians being paid bribes, to shoddy construction techniques and various ¦quot;mishaps¦quot; once the facilities had opened.

In fact, my grandmother lived her entire life near the Kruemmel nuclear plant which has recently closed. Throughout the existence of the facility, it was plagued with maintenance and safety violation issues. On top of that, a larger than average number of residents mysteriously came down with leukemia as well. I wonder why...

I think the Japan crisis is a good wake-up call for Germany, and will force it to address all of the maintenance and safety concerns that have come up over the years. Can we live without nuclear power? Not in this day and age. The alternative technology just isn¦#39;t there yet. It has improved, but unfortunately still falls short for now. I hope that will change soon.
22:47 March 27, 2011 by ebbelwoiguy
Germany will simply buy more nuclear power from over the border in France, where the green cult is less hysterical.
23:41 March 27, 2011 by Logic Guy
Well, for starters, there are many problems associated with nuclear energy. The potential for the leak of radiation is just one of them. Where do you store the toxic waste?

The Danes are Germanic People. And look at how they have become the most self-sifficeint nation on this planet, through the use of renewable energy.

What Germany needs most are leaders who are committed to Real Conservatism. In other words, they need leders who are actually committed to the idea of "Doing as they should."

Political Liberalism and Conservatism both, should be seen as obsolele. It's truly time!
23:51 March 27, 2011 by Universalismus
Change for BW, excellent, consciousness and environmental awareness. Typisch Deutsche.

Greens, SPD, CSU/CDU, FDP, Birds, Worms or Dragons have not seen what is coming, like a double-bladed knife. Sofort ausschalten oder nix, Mappus weg oder Grünen in da Haus.

Who will at 8:00am on Monday at the Bundestag is going to supply the water pumps fault-free continuously with electricity, maintenance, monitoring to keep the reactors and spent fuel cool?

Who will keep the nuclear complex staffed, and running once they are shut off?

@derExDeutsche

With the plants off and with the Greens in BW Im sure we wont be seeing lights, or even popped corn. But if the show is in the dark, I guess its gonna be munching on hard corn
00:16 March 28, 2011 by The-ex-pat
22:47 March 27, 2011 by ebbelwoiguy

Germany will simply buy more nuclear power from over the border in France, where the green cult is less hysterical.

And the irony will be completely lost on them!
03:47 March 28, 2011 by vonSchwerin
First, Kurt Beck. Now, Winfried Kretschmann. What's with the terrible, dated hairdos on German Ministerpraesidenten?

Maybe Petra Pau ought to run for MP of Brandenburg or Berlin.
09:03 March 28, 2011 by Talonx
It's always refreshing to watch the Germans smack down those that would electioneer instead of voting for them.

This is what the CDU gets for lying.
09:31 March 28, 2011 by freechoice
Auf Wiedersehen AtomKraft!!

Hallo Electrik Autos!!
10:05 March 28, 2011 by Airgirl
I as an American am trying to figure out this kneejerk reaction on the part of the German people. Between DE. and France you have a combined 75 Nuclear plants 58 in France and 17 in De. in a combined space smaller than the state of Texas. The whole US has 107 plants in a country that streaches some 12,248 Kilometers wide. So percapita you have more Nuclear plants in this region, does it mater if you shut down all the plants here in Germany if you still have 58 in your backyard that you have no control over? If one melts down in France you still feel it here in Germany as if it were here in Germany... Just an opinon!
10:38 March 28, 2011 by Angry Ami
Get ready to start driving 30kmh, and get ready to start paying a lot more for "renewable" energy, careful what you wish for people because you just might get it, case in point, Obama.
11:28 March 28, 2011 by Major B
Look at the bright side! Here is a chance to get rid of Westerwelle, free and clear!!! He is embarrasing Germany!

@ Herr exDer English major who in another post critcized serious minded contributors over punctuation marks, which can be used "artfully", in columns like this where one must be brief and offer real "content", vice your drunken musings.

so.. the english spelling is "bumbling" and "buffooning".

Your comments often epitomize the last word in the sentence above, perhaps a reflection on your real character.

Gosh I wish there were several other major competing political parties in the U.S., vice our two stiffling choices, the reason there are millions of independents here like me.

Congratulations to the Green Party!!!!
11:53 March 28, 2011 by pepsionice
A double-kneejerk of fair portion. You have the Stuttgart-21 jerk and the Japanese nuke plant jerk. So let us stand back and gaze two years into the future. The Stuttgart-21 affair will have been halted with massive costs involved. When the public realizes that they are now settled with a billion Euro in delay or change costs on top of what was anticipated.....another kneejerk will occur. Then someone will finally ask how you will provide all the electrical power after you immediately shutdown the nuke plants, and the answer will be....buy more nuke power from France and Russia at twenty percent more costs than you pay now.

Angry voters in 2013? Yes.....and they will come to demand another election, with massive losses for the Greens. The tide comes in to favor the Greens, and it will go out to hurt the Greens.

Finally, if you were a historian and looked over German history for 100 years....you'd like say they are the most kneejerked society in Europe, and fairly proud of it (except in the 1930s elections, which would be best left unmentioned).
12:57 March 28, 2011 by cobalisk
I guess this is the thread where all the people just sling names at the Germans.

Name calling accomplishes nothing and in this case all the 'knee-jerk' comments are symptomatic of a lack of information. As several people have already said, the debate about nuclear power is nothing new in Germany and most people are opposed to it and have been for decades.

Blaming liberals and the greens is nonsensical. Germany HAD a plan to phase out Nuclear power for more than 10 years, then the CDU suddenly scrapped it. Japan happens and reminds everyone why these are opposed to nuke power, now the people are making their displeasure heard.

This is not a ploy of the left, it is the will of the people. This is what happens when people get to vote, they vote for those who best represent their ideals and on atomic energy it most certainly is not the CDU, it is the SPD Die Linke and the Greens. Guess what, all enjoyed huge boosts. Demonizing and name calling when people do not agree with you says a lot about, none of it good.
13:22 March 28, 2011 by hanskarl
"And now the election results predict the Greens to be holding power in B-W and R-H, with all that they have promised, the results reflecting the panic of the population"

This is Germany. Their political affiliations shift like the wind while searching for a nonexistent utopia. Add to the mix the debacle with the Stuttgart train station and you hand delivered to the Greens exactly what they needed. Merkel's flip flop on Nuclear energy and the report it was for political benefit sealed the CDU's fate.

Sadly, the people of Germany will pay dearly in the long run.
13:23 March 28, 2011 by freechoice
the silver lining is this. germany opposes the war in Libya for oil reasons, we are going to ramp up electric cars in germany and we can all say goodbye to oils. everything is so perfekt.
13:25 March 28, 2011 by DavidtheNorseman
Actually, in part it is a ploy by the old USSR which spawned the whole anti-nuclear movement through the use of "useful idiots". The USSR is gone but its legacy lives on....

As for those who think we'll all be driving electric cars - LOL. We use a great deal more energy to move about than to do everything else combined. Our lights and hospitals are on the verge of not having enough electricity now, it is simply impossible to transfer to electric vehicles without tripling our electricity production.

Time to put up a billion euro prize for either (my preference) a system that gets 100% transformation of sunlight to electricity for use on every roof or functional fusion reactors.
14:04 March 28, 2011 by hanskarl
"germany opposes the war in Libya for oil reasons, "

I agree but for a different reason. They oppose this conflict but much more they avoid it. Libyan oil is known to be of the highest quality and the chemical compounds derived from it are very important to the German economy. This is one decision Merkel made that I agree with. What happened with her nuclear decision baffles the mind.
17:08 March 28, 2011 by JDee
time for change?

1 ) There are amazing devices that can turn sunlight and C02 into food, building materials, bio plastics, fuel, cosmetics, medicines and a million other things, they are called plants. They grow all by themselves and only require a tiny ammount of trace minerals along with the correct conditions of light and humidity. Why is everyone hoping for the magic green bullet to solve our energy problems when we've had it all along. 97% of plants are made from C02 and sunlight and they self-replicate, nobody will ever invent anything better than this! We already run heating with wood and leaf pellets and conceivably this could also power a lightweight car. It sounds kindof weird and funny, but why not?

1 ) All kinds of buildings can be created that require less energy to build and require virtually no energy to heat and light, that is a proven fact and we've had the tech for decades.

2 ) we don't need to build so many cars, they can be shared, cars can be far more efficient and changing driving habits also reduces fuel consumption

3 ) for transporting goods and commodities we should invest in VacTrain / ETT tech, for other personal transport we should use coaches ( buses ), we should electrify at least 1 lane of the autobahns, then we can use electric vehicles without batteries, this works, they have them in many European cities and China, autobahns should be time-zoned to allow more efficient and quicker journeys, i.e. goods vehicles only lanes at night etc..

4 ) for agriculture we should make returning to the land a more attractive proposition, a large increase of human + animal labour instead of machine labour, but it doesn't need to be toil and drudgery, permaculture + hydropnics / aquaponics can be high-tec, productive, provide interesting work and put food on our tables without burning huge ammounts of energy, the re-introduction of working horses is a no-brainer and I imagine a fantastic line of work for some people

5 ) For those exotic holidays there is no direct replacement for flying yet, again ETT could deliver something, the Chinese are working on this already. Otherwise, change, just don't fly. It's easier than you think. Again strong government is needed. I firmly believe that a huge ammount of business related flying is unnecceary, the problems can be solved in other ways. Currently no fuel duty + all those business flights are written off against tax as expenses, this is a double subsidy which is grossly unfair and wasteful

6 ) For shorter journeys.. use the coach, it's efficient, again with poss. electrification

Overall we shouldn't need to sacrifice our quality of homes, food, technology and entertainment, if we just the nail the big things it will be cool. There will be as much work as people want, always something to do. To summarise I would say it's about moving away from extract, burn and bury economy and moving to the grow, create and recyle model.
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