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Voters have given Angela Merkel's government a lesson it will not forget during this term, German newspaper commentators agreed on Monday, a day after the election in the country's most populous state.
Germany's papers see the election as a defeat for Chancellor Merkel
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Premier Juergen Ruettgers of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) suffered a defeat in his state because the CDU government coalition with the Free Democrats (FDP) is doing such a bad job on the federal level, writes the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. "Five years ago, Ruettgers won the NRW state election not because he was so convincing, but because the ruling Social Democratic Party(SPD)-Green coalition government was doing so poorly. This time, he lost the election - not because he was doing such a bad job, but because of the government in Berlin."
The mass circulation Bild Zeitung writes in its Monday edition that Sunday's state elections marked a "political landslide" in which voters gave Merkel's government a "lesson it will not forget during this term", which lasts until 2013.
"Boom bang bang - NRW voters taught the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats a lesson and changed the country's political statics," writes the Berliner Morgenpost. The slap in the face by Germany's most populous state was meant also for Chancellor (Angela) Merkel and her deputy (Guido) Westerwelle, the paper says, adding that in the end , it was most likely the highly unpopular Greek bailout package that influenced the voters.
The CDU and the FDP have suffered a major defeat, comments the Ostsee-Zeitung - with grave consequences beyond the state of NRW. "The end of the CDU-FDP coalition government in NRW marks a turning point for the coalition with the same partners on the federal level as well," the paper continues. "The majority in the upper house is gone, and so are major projects: tax reform and extending the life-span of Germany's nuclear power plants. The wiggle room for Angela Merkel and her deputy, FDP leader Guido Westerwelle, has shrunk before they even dared use it."
The Rheinische Post also regards the loss of the majority in the upper house, the Bundesrat, as a problem for Angela Merkel and her coalition government. "No matter who ends up forming the new government in NRW, the chancellor will have to scramble for a majority in the Bundesrat in each individual case."
Ruettgers is taking the rap for a situation that Berlin is really responsible for, writes the Donaukurier. "Voters in NRW didn't vote against Juergen Ruettgers; rather, they showed Angela Merkel and Guido Westerwelle the yellow card. Losing the majority in the upper house is a just penalty for a never-ending discussion on tax reforms that has paralysed the lower house of parliament for the past six months. "
Editor: Chuck Penfold