Merkel loses in heartland

City A.M. Reporter
GERMAN chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party lost power in a regional stronghold yesterday, with early poll results showing the Greens, buoyed by Japan’s nuclear crisis, surging to their first state premiership.

In Baden-Wuerttemberg state, where anti-nuclear sentiment has been mobilised by Japan’s nuclear breakdown, the Greens and Social Democrats (SPD) were set to win 47.3 per cent, eclipsing the Christian Democrats who held power there for six decades.

Merkel’s CDU and its Free Democrat coalition partners, big backers of nuclear power, won a combined 44.3 per cent, according to projections last night in the state of 11m million people.

Analysts said the loss would cause Merkel some headaches in her party, with many disconcerted by recent policy decisions; but an immediate leadership challenge wasunlikely.

“The horrible pictures from Japan and the horrible events in Japan was the main issue over the last two weeks,” said defeated CDU state premier Stefan Mappus.

The Greens’ 13 per cent advance was mirrored in the state election in Rhineland-Palatinate, where the SPD held power and was likely to form a coaltion with the Greens.