Berlin: Admitting a "bitter, painful defeat" in Germany's largest state election, Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday said the rout won't weaken her and affect her policy on Europe's debt crisis.
The German Chancellor insisted that she won’t budge on the issue of budget discipline. However, she added: "No one on our side has anything against growth."
Merkel, who this week must start building a relationship with France's new Socialist president, saw her Christian Democratic Union suffer its worst election result on Sunday in North Rhine-Westphalia — Germany's most populous state — since World War II. Voters strengthened a regional government run by Germany's main opposition parties that her conservatives portrayed as irresponsibly spendthrift.
Talking to reporters, Merkel said: "I was not up for election there."
But while a popular centre-left governor and a poor campaign by the conservative challenger played a part, it was the latest in a string of poor state election showings over the past two years for Merkel's infighting-prone centre-right national coalition with the pro-market Free Democratic Party.
"Angela Merkel and the CDU and FDP no longer have a prospect of a majority," said Sigmar Gabriel, the leader of the centre-left Social Democrats, Germany's biggest opposition party.
All the same, national polls currently show Merkel's conservatives as the biggest party, and her coalition about level with the Social Democrats and their allies, the Greens — with neither side in line for a parliamentary majority. They also show support for Merkel's stance in the debt crisis.
Merkel pointed to those polls, and increasing numbers of undecided voters. "I am very relaxed about the federal election," she said. The elections are expected to take place in September 2013.
Merkel said her work in Europe was "not affected" by Sunday's outcome.
(With Agency’s inputs)
First Published: Monday, May 14, 2012, 21:03