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Merkel blames 'painful defeat' on Japan fears

The Local · 28 Mar 2011, 14:00

Published: 28 Mar 2011 14:00 GMT+02:00

She said the loss suffered by her Christian Democrats (CDU) Sunday in their southwestern conservative heartland meant that the party could not return to "business as usual" – though she said she had no plans to reshuffle her cabinet.

"That is a watershed moment for the state and also in the history of the Christian Democratic Union. We will have to work through this painful defeat with our friends in Baden-Württemberg for a while to come," she said, referring to the CDU losing power after governing the state for 58 years.

"The debate in connection with the Japanese nuclear plant of Fukushima was clearly what led to our defeat ... My view of atomic energy has changed since the events in Japan."

Merkel said she was a supporter of nuclear power but that the post-tsunami crisis at the Fukushima plant had led her to rethink her position. Earlier this month, Merkel suspended a planned extension of the life of German nuclear reactors, four of which are in Baden-Württemberg. She also temporarily shut off the country's seven oldest reactors pending a safety review.

Nuclear power is unpopular in Germany, but many voters saw Merkel's zigzagging as an electoral ploy. It cost Merkel support while boosting the Greens, who doubled their score in Baden-Württemberg and tripled it in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where they are expected to form a coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats.

The triumphant Greens said Monday their historic gains were just the start of a campaign that would sweep the country in a "super" election year and party leader Cem Ozdemir said they had the wind at their backs.

"It is obvious that voters are looking to us to play a new role," he told the news agency AFP. "We want to give the voters who chose us for the first time a new electoral home."

Co-leader Claudia Roth said the success of the Greens in wealthy Baden-Württemberg, where industrial giants Porsche, Daimler and Bosch are based, was especially promising.

"A Green state premier in Baden-Württemberg, home to the automobile and mechanical engineering industries, will show that you can make a profit with green ideas and that ecology and the economy are not at odds,” Roth told AFP.

She said the Greens aimed to win representation in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania – the last region where they have no seats – in September.

Roth was also bullish for the party's prospects in Bremen’s May elections and in the capital Berlin, which votes in September and could see the Greens capture the helm of their second state legislature.

Founded as an anti-nuclear, ecologist outfit in 1980, the Green party gradually made inroads throughout West Germany state-by-state, and served as the junior partner in a Social Democrat-led federal government 1998-2005.

Story continues below…

During that time, they wrote legislation that would have mothballed all of Germany's nuclear reactors by around 2020.

However, Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right government overturned that decision last October – a move that came back to haunt her in light of the nuclear disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant this month.

AFP/The Local/arp/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

14:47 March 28, 2011 by erkan
This is what I don´t understand she had a change of heart , she did the right

thing concerning the older nuclear plants . What more do people want , blood?

Frau Merkel is the best leader Germany has had in decades . what she and her

party did during the financel crisis borders on "Heroic" . Yet German voters constantly shoot themselves in the foot . There´s some old sayings "You stay

with a winner" and "Don´t change horses in the middle of the stream " .
15:07 March 28, 2011 by freechoice
being re-active to aftermath of Fukushima shows she is no visionary to lead Germany into the next century.
15:12 March 28, 2011 by Simon_Kellett
> shows she is no visionary to lead Germany into the next century

Given that this is 89 years away I think we would all agree :-)
15:26 March 28, 2011 by freechoice
but what the heck. the world is coming to an end soon.

that's okay for now.
15:36 March 28, 2011 by theinfo
Oh no Ange, I was your action that added to the fear when you ordered to suspend the three nuclear power plants. I was you that bahaved like a scare little girl instead of a strong and confident leader. At a time when you supposed to be calm and resolute instead you acted according to your impulse that was the adding fuel to the greens. If you just behaved like the rest of the European leaders then the election outcome yesterday could have been different!

On the other hand, stay out of Libya was a very smart move! Let that peace loving religion of peace people deal with each other in a loving way that they always do, the west have had enough!
16:13 March 28, 2011 by Gilly58
Schwesterwelle!... where¦#39;s me teeth? I¦#39;m sure that I put them in this glass last night! I can¦#39;t possibly face the country looking like this!...You…You…bah…. that¦#39;s another fine mess you got me into!
16:33 March 28, 2011 by freechoice
for a moment i thought i saw her face glow.

boy she must be mad...
17:35 March 28, 2011 by derExDeutsche
Merkel allowed the Public to see behind the Curtain. Once Bruderle told the truth about why those Nuke Plants were shut down, the cat was out of the bag.

People have now seen the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to the policy corruption and outright lies in this administration. Green Jobs are Great Dr. Merkel, but at what cost? Is a complete breakdown of trust too much? How many more lies will we endure?

Oh, I know, I hear a lot of you liberals asking 'Oh, but if its doing good, who cares if its a lie?'. Well, you should care. You're being treated like Idiots.

now Germany must settle for the other of 2 evils.
19:08 March 28, 2011 by Landmine
ha ha, I like that picture... Looks like her saying:

Wah wah, you ungreatfull rat b@stards, I did everything for you and this is how you pay me back!!!!!! Wahhhhh!!!!
22:59 March 28, 2011 by toemag
Any one else think that the Governments wouldn't pass a stress test of any kind?

The nuclear power plant affair coupled with other recent bad decisions like the managing of the Stuttgart Main Railway station have pissed the populace off to a point of no return.

If things continue to go in the direction that they are. Germany will see General elections sooner than planned.
23:23 March 28, 2011 by catjones
An Over-Reaction
23:34 March 28, 2011 by taiwanluthiers
Seriously... her face in the picture looks like a certain German leader right before his defeat in 1945...
08:39 March 29, 2011 by proclusian
Also bidde schön, Frau Merkel ... I think this account of why the Greens made such gains -- especially in Baden-Württemberg -- is really short-sighted, although in a way it demonstrates her own short-sightedness and lack of vision as @freechoice pointed out. Yes, the nuclear disaster in Japan (and the bumbling way Merkel and her Cabinet handled and spoke about it), pushed the Greens up maybe 2 or 3 percentage points in B.-W., and that was Gott sei dank enough to remove Mappus and the CDU from power, but this has been a long time in coming.

There are many factors and it's more complex than one can speak about in a comment, but I think it has a LOT more to do with the "push-through" mentality of Mappus which gave birth to the Anti-Stuttgart 21 movement. People want transparency. People want honesty. And they want their collective will respected and listened to. They are not going to put up with being lied to and talked down to any longer. This is a world-wide sentiment which is breaking out in different forms and different ways (in specific areas) across the globe. Read the news: Cairo, Madison, Stuttgart, London.

To paraphrase a famous philosopher: "To vote or not to vote is all the same. Whether we vote or don't vote, we will have done nothing if we do not fight at the same time against the system of indirect democracy which deliberately reduces us to powerlessness. We must try to organize the anti-hierarchical movement which fights the presumptuousness of institutions everywhere."
10:29 March 29, 2011 by Angry Ami
LOL, well I guess you gotta blame somebody, man the CDU never learn, since the major debacle form uncle Helmut, remember, right after reunification, what'd he say, " you will never have to suffer again like you have my dear ossies", then he got eggs thrown in his face, LMAO, not that the SPD is much better, but at least Schröder had the guts to make reforms to the welfare state, which in turn got the economy rolling again, and @ erkan, that was Gerhard Schröder who made it easy for Angie, the cdu would have never been able to get such reforms through, and for the record the best chancellor that Germany ever had was Helmut Schmidt, that guy was a straight shooter, and when you consider what he had to deal with at that time in history, I can't vote but if I could have I'd have voted for him, coming up next: macht wechsel, news at 11:00
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