Angela Merkel

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Germany: Defeat in German regional elections dents poll hopes of Merkel and heir | guardian.co.uk

From outside Germany, Angela Merkel has long looked invincible. She has come to symbolise Germany’s political scene as Margaret Thatcher once did Britain’s. But on Monday morning she saw her centre-right coalition narrowly ousted by the opposition centre-left in a regional election that shifts the balance of power in Germany and could have profound implications for her chances of re-election in September. She told a press conference in Berlin that the result in Lower Saxony was “emotionally difficult” to deal with after the “rollercoaster” expectation that the Christian Democrat and liberal Free Democrat (FDP) coalition led by the half-Scottish David McAllister would narrowly succeed. It is a blow to her hopes for a boost as she fights for a third term in office, and as the 12th consecutive defeat for her party at state level it will give the centre-left a majority in the upper house, allowing the opposition to block major legislation or initiate laws that could make Merkel’s life extremely difficult.

Full Article: Defeat in German regional elections dents poll hopes of Merkel and heir | World news | guardian.co.uk.

Germany: Kremlin blames anti-Russian rhetoric in Germany on campaign intrigue | RT

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to defend her office against what promises to be a tough campaign, Russia – as was the case in recent American presidential elections – has been dragged into the fray. The Kremlin is “perfectly aware” that anti-Russian rhetoric in Germany has been ratcheting up “in the past weeks and even months,” presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists prior to Putin’s talks with Merkel on Thursday. With an election season in Germany right around the corner, some politicians see an opportunity to exploit German-Russian relations for their own political interests.

Full Article: Kremlin blames anti-Russian rhetoric in Germany on campaign intrigue — RT.

Ukraine: Vitali Klitschko, the boxer who would be president, faces his toughest fight yet | guardian.co.uk

In one of the world’s most combustible parliaments, MPs had better watch out. A putative new member is coming who can do more than look after himself. They call him Dr Ironfist and for good reason: Vitali Klitschko is a heavyweight boxing champion, the first ever to hold a PhD – and not a man to pick a fight with. After two decades in the ring, the 41-year-old is on his way to perhaps the most bruising challenge of his life – taking on President Viktor Yanukovych and the dominant elite of Ukraine’s corrupt political system. With elections next month and some expecting Klitschko to hang up his gloves after a fight against Manuel Charr this weekend, the boxer appears poised for that most enigmatic of transformations: sports star to politician. “We are trying to make politics more open,” Klitschko said in an interview with the Guardian. “It became a Ukrainian tradition to make decisions behind closed doors [but] … we are trying to apply European standards in politics.”

Full Article: Vitali Klitschko, the boxer who would be president, faces his toughest fight yet | World news | guardian.co.uk.

Netherlands: Dutch election focuses on the euro crisis | Deutsche Welle

Dutch concerns about the euro crisis are dominating the election campaign and have led to a sharp increase in socialist popularity in recent polls. Should the German Chancellor Angela Merkel be worried? The warm summer weather has returned to the small Dutch town of Boxmeer. An ice cream shop on Steen Street provides locals with place to cool off. The leading candidate for the Socialist Party (SP), Emile Roemer, vigorously scoops the ice cream and doles out a red clump of ice cream into a cone. In the background, the bells of the chapel drone, while dozens of photographers and cameramen snap photos and film the event. The Socialist Party leader laughs at the disfigured result of his efforts. But that’s no problem for Roemer. It’s the thought that counts. The powerful politician is offering a special sweet locals will probably have a hard time getting again: tomato ice-cream. The tomato is the symbol of the socialist political party. Back in the day, in the much wilder years, Dutch Socialists enjoyed pelting their political opponents with juicy, red tomatoes.

Full Article: Dutch election focuses on the euro crisis | Europe | DW.DE | 05.09.2012.

Netherlands: Dutch set to defy austerity as left takes poll lead | EUobserver.com

The left-wing Socialist party is expected to seize the largest gains in September’s Dutch elections, threatening to deprive German Chancellor Angela Merkel of one of her closest allies in response to the eurozone debt crisis. With Dutch voters set to go to the polls on 12 September 12, opinion polls indicated that the Socialist party, which has never formed part of a government, is running marginally ahead of caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberal party (VVD). According to a survey released on Wednesday (22 August) by opinion pollsters TNS-Nipo, both parties are projected to win 34 seats in the 150 member Parliament, with the centre-left Labour party (PvdA) expected to poll in third place with 21 seats. A poll of polls compiled this week by the University of Leiden pegs the Socialist and VVD parties at 35 and 33 seats respectively.

Full Article: EUobserver.com / Political Affairs / Dutch set to defy austerity as left takes poll lead.

Editorials: Dutch go to the polls | Financial Times

François Hollande’s victory in the French presidential polls this year showed how a single national election can change Europe’s political equilibrium. Now the forthcoming Dutch election is being shaken up by the eurozone’s attempts to end its crisis and threatening in return to cause complications for Europe. The election itself is a result of the Dutch government being a casualty of the eurozone crisis. Long a hawkish supporter of deficit cuts in the currency union’s periphery, the Netherlands was forced to take its own medicine when it went into recession last year and was set to miss fiscal targets agreed with the EU. An austerity package, designed by the coalition between prime minister Mark Rutte’s centre-right Liberal party and the Christian Democrats, led Geert Wilders’ populist Freedom party to withdraw parliamentary support and bring the government down. Both right and left are now riven by disagreements over how to handle the eurozone debt crisis. On the right, Mr Wilders has burnt his bridges and can only play the role of obstructionist. On the left, the Socialist party has outflanked the Labour party with strident criticism of both domestic austerity and the Fiscal Compact – the disciplining treaty demanded by German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Full Article: Dutch to the polls - FT.com.

Germany: Court dumps election law that favored Merkel | NBCNews.com

Germany’s top court ruled on Wednesday that the country’s election law is unconstitutional, leaving Europe’s biggest economy with no valid rules on how to distribute seats in the Bundestag lower house just over a year before the next vote. The Karlsruhe-based Constitutional Court upheld a case brought by the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and more than over 3,000 citizens against the law, which was altered by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right coalition last year. Germany’s complex system, which can end up creating extra or “overhang” parliamentary seats that benefit the bigger parties, breaches citizens’ rights to take part in direct, free and equal elections as enshrined in the constitution, the court said. Merkel’s government, preoccupied with trying to stem the euro zone debt crisis, now has to come up with a new law by autumn 2013, when the next federal election is due. A spokesman said the government respected the court’s decision.

Full Article: German court dumps election law that favored Merkel - Business - Stocks & economy - NBCNews.com.

Greece: Countdown to crucial election in Greece | euronews

With polls due to open in less than 24 hours, leftwing Syriza and the conservative New Democracy party are level-pegging in the race to win the election in Greece. The vote is being seen as a crucial indicator for the country’s future within the eurozone. Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras is the most likely candidate for the next prime minister of Greece. Although his party does not want to abandon the single-currency, it does reject the harsh austerity that comes with accepting the 130 billion euro bailout the country desperately needs.

Full Article: Countdown to crucial election in Greece | euronews, world news.

Editorials: Greeks approach election feeling angry, helpless and betrayed | The Irish Times

The Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times”, might have been coined with the Greek people in mind. Not since the fall of the military junta in 1974 has there been such turmoil and uncertainty. It’s not physical turmoil (although there have been mild fisticuffs in my local bar) but conceptual, as voters prepare for the next elections on June 17th, following the totally inconclusive ballot last month. There is a series of dichotomies (after all, the Greeks invented the word). On one hand, in the bigger picture, is the right of the Greeks to self-determination; on the other are Greece’s international obligations, as members of the EU and debtors to the IMF. On one hand, many politicians and technocrats are saying Greece must be changed completely, while on the other Greek people want to go on being Greek. The greatest dilemma is the fact that Syriza (Radical Left) may well top the polls, having pushed Pasok into third place last month. Current predictions have Syriza at 27-30 per cent, with New Democracy (ND) on 23-27 per cent and Pasok limping badly on 12-15 per cent. Topping the poll on 30 per cent would give Syriza 90 seats, plus a bonus of 50 – a total of 140, just 11 seats short of an overall majority. Syriza’s leader, Alexis Tsipras, the new kid on the block, wants to repudiate Greece’s debts, reverse the austerity measures and nationalise the banks, yet – and here’s another dichotomy – he wants to stay in the euro, which might be fiscally impossible.

Full Article: Greeks approach election feeling angry, helpless and betrayed - The Irish Times - Mon, Jun 04, 2012.

Ireland: Intense Debate Over Euro Zone Fiscal Pact Referendum | Der Spiegel

All of Europe is looking to Ireland as the country prepares to vote on Thursday in a referendum on the unpopular fiscal compact for greater budgetary discipline. If the Irish reject the new treaty, it won’t just be a major blow to its main advocate Angela Merkel. It could also spark panic on the financial markets. Though past referendums on European Union issues in Ireland have proven to be problematic, this time things are expected to go off without a hitch. When the Irish vote on the EU “fiscal compact” treaty on Thursday, their clear approval is expected. Polls predict that some 60 percent of the voters will tick the Yes box on the controversial treaty, which commits all ratifying members to fiscal responsibility.

Full Article: Irish Engage in Intense Debate Over Euro Zone Fiscal Pact Referendum - SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Ireland: Intense Debate Over Euro Zone Fiscal Pact Referendum | Der Spiegel

All of Europe is looking to Ireland as the country prepares to vote on Thursday in a referendum on the unpopular fiscal compact for greater budgetary discipline. If the Irish reject the new treaty, it won’t just be a major blow to its main advocate Angela Merkel. It could also spark panic on the financial markets. Though past referendums on European Union issues in Ireland have proven to be problematic, this time things are expected to go off without a hitch. When the Irish vote on the EU “fiscal compact” treaty on Thursday, their clear approval is expected. Polls predict that some 60 percent of the voters will tick the Yes box on the controversial treaty, which commits all ratifying members to fiscal responsibility.

Full Article: Irish Engage in Intense Debate Over Euro Zone Fiscal Pact Referendum - SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Greece: Greeks set election date amid possibility of bank panic | CNN.com

Greece will hold new elections on June 17, state media reported Wednesday, amid a political and economic crisis that could have effects far beyond the country’s borders. News of the election date came as Greeks pulled hundreds of millions of euros out of the banking system amid fears that the country will not be able to stay in the European Union’s single currency. Just 10 days ago, Greeks voters punished the major parties for harsh budget cuts, leaving no party able to form a government. A caretaker administration led by a senior judge will run the country until the new vote.
Interim Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos was sworn in Wednesday. The president’s office said Cabinet ministers will take their oaths of office Thursday morning. The political deadlock is leading to fears that Greece will not have a government in place when it needs to make critical debt payments, which could in turn jeopardize its place in the eurozone, the group of 17 European Union countries that use the euro currency. And a Greek crisis could spread, one analyst warned.

Full Article: Greeks set election date amid possibility of bank panic - CNN.com.

Greece: Greeks set election date amid possibility of bank panic | CNN.com

Greece will hold new elections on June 17, state media reported Wednesday, amid a political and economic crisis that could have effects far beyond the country’s borders. News of the election date came as Greeks pulled hundreds of millions of euros out of the banking system amid fears that the country will not be able to stay in the European Union’s single currency. Just 10 days ago, Greeks voters punished the major parties for harsh budget cuts, leaving no party able to form a government. A caretaker administration led by a senior judge will run the country until the new vote.
Interim Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos was sworn in Wednesday. The president’s office said Cabinet ministers will take their oaths of office Thursday morning. The political deadlock is leading to fears that Greece will not have a government in place when it needs to make critical debt payments, which could in turn jeopardize its place in the eurozone, the group of 17 European Union countries that use the euro currency. And a Greek crisis could spread, one analyst warned.

Full Article: Greeks set election date amid possibility of bank panic - CNN.com.

Germany: Opposition wins major state vote | Washington Examiner

Voters in Germany’s most populous state strengthened a center-left regional government which Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives sought to portray as irresponsibly spendthrift, and inflicted an embarrassingly heavy defeat Sunday on the German leader’s party, projections showed. The center-left Social Democrats and Greens — Germany’s main opposition parties — won combined support of about 51 percent in the election in North Rhine-Westphalia state, according to ARD television based on exit polls and early counting. That would be enough to give them a majority in the state legislature, which they narrowly missed in the last regional election two years ago. 

Full Article: German opposition wins major state vote | Washington Examiner.

Germany: Opposition wins major state vote | Washington Examiner

Voters in Germany’s most populous state strengthened a center-left regional government which Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives sought to portray as irresponsibly spendthrift, and inflicted an embarrassingly heavy defeat Sunday on the German leader’s party, projections showed. The center-left Social Democrats and Greens — Germany’s main opposition parties — won combined support of about 51 percent in the election in North Rhine-Westphalia state, according to ARD television based on exit polls and early counting. That would be enough to give them a majority in the state legislature, which they narrowly missed in the last regional election two years ago. 

Full Article: German opposition wins major state vote | Washington Examiner.

Editorials: Europe’s Election Rumble: Noise, Then Fury? | Forbes

The headline news from Sunday’s elections in Europe is the defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy for a second term as president of France. Although this was frequently billed as a right vs. left runoff with the victor, Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande, it looms less likely to be an ideological result than the more obscure voting elsewhere on the continent–in Greece, Serbia and in a German state. First, to France: Hollande’s near 52% of the vote is a decisive if not overwhelming rejection of Sarkozy, whose initial mandate to re-energize French productivity on his win in 2007 fell afoul not just of the subsequent financial crisis but also of the statist overhang of the nation, where government accounts for a clear majority of GDP and state-shielded unions have a grip on key sectors, public or private. Tinkering with its labor laws was not enough to restore competitiveness, so growth stayed slow and unemployment high.

Full Article: Europe's Election Rumble: Noise, Then Fury? - Forbes.

Editorials: Europe's Election Rumble: Noise, Then Fury? | Forbes

The headline news from Sunday’s elections in Europe is the defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy for a second term as president of France. Although this was frequently billed as a right vs. left runoff with the victor, Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande, it looms less likely to be an ideological result than the more obscure voting elsewhere on the continent–in Greece, Serbia and in a German state. First, to France: Hollande’s near 52% of the vote is a decisive if not overwhelming rejection of Sarkozy, whose initial mandate to re-energize French productivity on his win in 2007 fell afoul not just of the subsequent financial crisis but also of the statist overhang of the nation, where government accounts for a clear majority of GDP and state-shielded unions have a grip on key sectors, public or private. Tinkering with its labor laws was not enough to restore competitiveness, so growth stayed slow and unemployment high.

Full Article: Europe's Election Rumble: Noise, Then Fury? - Forbes.