Germany-France

Merkel’s election debacle is good news for Hollande

Published on 14 May 2012 at 14:11

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With the headline “SPD triumph in North Rhine-Westphalia as CDU is routed”, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports on the results of the 13 May election in Germany’s most populous state, which saw Angela Merkel’s party, and local party chairman Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen, lose 8% of the vote, which was snapped up by the social-democratic SPD, the Greens and the Pirate Party. The vote is the latest in a series of disappointments for the Chancellor’s office and the CDU, which has been on a losing streak at the polls since the start of the financial crisis in Europe.

For the Frankfurt daily —

The theme of debt reduction, which already figured large in the CDU’s failed campaign in Schleswig-Holstein state elections, will only attract votes if it is presented in a credible manner. The Environment Minister, who banged on about savings and cost-cutting while advocating extremely costly adjustments in energy policy, is the embodiment of an inconsistent approach to this theme. Furthermore, it was contradictory to insist on “Greek conditions” and to simultaneously announce that Germany has never been better off. Finally, the CDU assumption that voters are virulently opposed to debt appears to assume that the French and the Greeks inhabit a completely different planet.

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On this point, in FranceLe Monde argues that the result of the German vote “is bad news for the German Chancellor and good news for François Hollande, who will meet Angela Merkel on 15 May in Berlin, immediately after his official inauguration”.

In recent weeks, Mr Hollande has become the leading European exponent of a growth strategy to overcome the euro crisis, while Mrs Merkel has continued to advocate budgetary rigour as the only possible foundation for “sustained growth”. The success of Mr Hollande has prompted high expectations in EU states struggling to cope with the debt crisis, and the ideas he has proposed have also attracted support in the ranks of the SPD on the other side of the Rhine. Mrs Merkel is aware of this, and the blow of Sunday’s election will be a further encouragement for her to be more flexible on the issue of a growth pact.

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