[QODLink]
Europe
Germany's Merkel faces state poll blow
Defeat for chancellor's party in local elections would undermine her position in parliament.
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2011 15:32
Opinion polls ahead of the vote show the Social Democrats in the lead [Reuters]

Germany's Christian Democrats, the party of Angela Merkel, looks set for defeat in a state election that could deal a blow to the Germa chancellor's leadership of the country's centre-right government.

Exit polls in Baden-Wuerttemberg on Sunday showed the state slipping out of the hands of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) in an election overshadowed by anger at the chancellor's nuclear policy, as well as decisions on Libya and the euro.

"The election day that is making black-yellow tremble," ran a headline in German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, ahead of the poll, referring to the colours of the ruling coalition of Merkel's CDU and the Free Democrats.

Losing Baden-Wuerttemberg, which lies on the French and Swiss borders and is home to car makers Daimler and Porsche, would weaken Merkel's grip on her party and make it even harder for her to pass legislation in the upper house of parliament.

Opinion polls ahead of the vote showed the Social Democrats (SPD) and their likely allies, the fast-growing Greens, with an edge over the coalition.

The opposition could win 48 per cent of the vote, a survey by the independent TNS Emnid institute, released on Friday, showed.

Nuclear concerns

Campaigning in Baden-Wuerttemberg has been dominated by the nuclear catastrophe in Japan.

Merkel had planned to extend the lifetime of Germany's nuclear reactors, four of which are based in Baden-Wuerttemberg, but the disaster in Japan prompted her to suspend this decision for three months.

She also temporarily shut off the seven oldest reactors pending a safety review.

Nick Spicer, Al Jazeera's correspondent, reporting from Stuttgart, said that decision had not played well with voters, most of whom are opposed nuclear power.

"People here didn't like it when she [Merkel] extended the life of those nuclear plants and then she announced, after the Japanese disaster,  a re-think, of her policy," he said.

"But most people are seeing that as political opportunism, a ploy to distract voters from her policy which the majority of Germans actually don't support."

In addition, conservative voters are critical of Berlin's abstention from a UN Security Council vote to create a no-fly zone in Libya, a break with Germany's Western allies.

German media has also been critical of Merkel for agreeing at an EU summit on Thursday to commit to a huge new rescue fund for struggling Eurozone economies.

Merkel's future could be clouded if the CDU loses. When Gerhard Schroeder, Merkel's SPD predecessor as chancellor, lost North Rhine-Westphalia in 2005, he called a snap election and lost.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps have been released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.