Some are describing it as a double blow for Angela Merkel.
As Germany’s Social Democrats celebrate trouncing her CDU in a regional poll, the backlash against her European austerity policies is building.
The Chancellor has acknowledged her conservatives’ worst ever result in North Rhine Westphalia was a ‘bitter and painful’ defeat.
However, resisting pressure for a more expansive strategy to foment jobs and growth, she insists that fiscal discipline is the only way forward.
“There is no contradiction between serious budgetary policy and growth,” she said, responding to the setback.
The convincing win by the SPD’s Hannelore Kraft in Germany’s most populous state, with 39 per cent of the vote, could propel her to national prominence. Merkel’s Christian Democrats could only muster 26 per cent.
Some think Kraft could now be the SPD’s best bet to challenge Merkel for the Chancellorship in the German federal election next year.