German chancellor delays decision to extend the life of ageing nuclear plants in reaction to Japanese crisis.
|Exit polls showed the Greens emerging victorious in the Baden-Wuerttemberg vote [EPA]|
Germany’s anti-nuclear Green Party has scored a remarkable state election victory, dealing a blow to the party of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, according to preliminary poll results.
The Greens won 24.2 per cent in wealthy Baden-Wuerttemberg state while the Social Democracts (SPD) finished at 23.2 per cent, meaning Greens state leader Winfried Kretschmann will lead a Greens-SPD state government.
“This is a day that has strongly changed the political landscape in Germany,” Claudia Roth, the Greens party chairwoman, said in Berlin.
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.
The Baden-Wuerttemberg state election has been overshadowed by anger at the Merkel”s nuclear policy, as well as decisions on Libya and the euro.
The Christian Democrats had held power there for almost six decades.
Some in the media have attributed the Greens’ lead, at least in part, to the nuclear crisis 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 the decision had not played well with voters, most of whom are opposed to 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.