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Mon May 14, 2012 5:6PM
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (file photo)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (file photo)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has acknowledged her conservative party’s heavy defeat in Germany's most populous state regional election, calling it “bitter and painful”. Despite acknowledging defeat in the crucial regional election Merkel said that the vote would not affect “the work in Europe”, reaffirming her tough stance on the European policy of austerity measures. “No one on our side has anything against growth, but the question is what that means for budget policy…. I would like to recall again that the Greek crisis was not caused by too much saving," Merkel said on Monday. On Sunday, Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) secured only over 26 percent of the vote in western Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia, while the Social Democrats and the Greens, the main German opposition parties, won combined support of 51 percent. The election outcome foreshadows Merkel chances of reelection in the 2013 national vote in which she is expected to fight for a third term. Meanwhile, the victory for the opposition can help the German left to force Merkel to scale back on her austerity policies. Merkel needs the opposition's support to get the European budget-discipline pact through the German Parliament, where it requires a two-thirds majority. The Sunday election was a double defeat for Merkel. Voters not only rejected her party but also the austerity measures that she has forced on the debt-ridden European states such as Greece, Portugal in return for bailing them out. PG/JR/AZ
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