Japanese Nuclear Crisis Costs Merkel’s CDU State Election; Greens Celebrate Huge Win
Fallout from the Japanese nuclear disaster has landed in Germany, but it was of the political, not radioactive variety.
Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the center-right party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, suffered a crushing defeat at the polls as voters in the conservative southern state of Baden-Wüerttemberg, alarmed by the Japanese nuclear disaster, propelled the Green Party to its first-ever state premiership.
The election was indeed seen by many as a referendum on Germany’s nuclear energy policy. “The debate in connection with the Japanese nuclear plant of Fukushima was clearly what led to our defeat,” Merkel admitted. “My view of atomic energy has changed since the events in Japan,” she added. But her change of heart came too late to save her CDU in this election.
The triumphant Greens, who won 24.4% of the vote, will enter government with the left-leaning Social Democrats, and since the former is the larger of the two, they will in all likelihood appoint the state premier.
“We’ve achieved a historic election victory,” said the Green’s Winfried Kretschmann, who is likely to become premier. “I’d like to thank those that voted for us– especially those voting for us for the first time.”
On the other hand, Chancellor Merkel called the CDU defeat “a deep wound in the history of Baden-Wüerttemberg and also the history of the CDU.” “The pain from this loss won’t go away in just one day,” she added. “We’ll have to work for a long time to overcome the pain from this defeat.”
Merkel suffered because of her pro-nuclear power stance. Although she reversed a decision she made in 2010 to extend the lifespan of Germany’s nuclear power plants and shutter seven of the country’s oldest reactors, many voters saw her actions as blatant electioneering. According to Britain’s Telegraph, Germany gets 23% of its electricity from nuclear power plants, yet as much as 80% of the population opposes them.
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