Opposition Wins Major State Vote In Germany

Voters in Germany's most populous state, North Rhine Westphalia, have delivered a major blow to the ruling party, the Christian Democrats, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz talks with Michael Kolz, the chief political reporter for German station Phoenix, about why the results in North Rhine Westphalia matter and what they mean for the left-wing Social Democrats.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

GUY RAZ, HOST:

It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

Voters in Germany's most populous state, North Rhine Westphalia, have delivered a major blow to the ruling party, the Christian Democrats, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel. The left-wing Social Democrats look set to form the next governing coalition there. It's the worst showing for the Christian Democrats in that state since the Second World War and could be a sign that German voters are growing weary of her tough line on fiscal discipline.

Joining me now on the line from Bonn is Michael Kolz. He's a political reporter for Phoenix, which is Germany's national political news network. Michael, why is this result in North Rhine Westphalia such a blow for Chancellor Merkel?

MICHAEL KOLZ: Because it did not appear that the Christian Democrats would suffer such a big loss. I mean, they were actually performing pretty well throughout the last state elections, but the North Rhine Westphalia is the most important, biggest and most powerful state, and nobody expected the red and greens to take such a big win.

RAZ: The greens, of course, the Green Party and the reds, Social Democrats.

KOLZ: Yeah. And Merkel actually had a serious problem in terms of having the right candidate, probably. So a lot of it goes back to their candidate, and he stepped down tonight.

RAZ: This election, of course, doesn't change national politics and national balance of power in Germany. Merkel is still the chancellor. But what does it say about national elections, which are expected to be held late next year?

KOLZ: Oh, people are getting nervous, especially in the governing coalition. I mean, they - since North Rhine Westphalia, as I mentioned, is the most powerful state. So when this is coming up with a big victory for the Social Democrats and the Green Party, most people in the governing coalition are a little nervous now that it's too short an amount of time until next year, and they could possibly not recover from this loss tonight.

RAZ: That's Michael Kolz. He's a political reporter for the German TV network Phoenix. Michael, thanks.

KOLZ: Thank you.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.