Chief Correspondent, Germany
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May 14, 2012

Could heartland victory help Kraft to Berlin?

BERLIN, May 14 (Reuters) – Her rivals call her Germany’s
“debt queen”, but Hannelore Kraft’s victory in a state election
at the weekend has driven speculation she could challenge
Chancellor Angela Merkel as the mother of a nation famed for its
frugality.

Kraft’s ready smile and common touch helped her turn around
the fortunes of her Social Democrats (SPD) in the May 13 vote in
North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and she was re-elected premier of
Germany’s most populous state.

May 14, 2012

Isolated Merkel sticks by austerity after vote setback

BERLIN, May 14 (Reuters) – Angela Merkel is looking
increasingly isolated at home and in Europe after what she
called a “bitter, painful defeat” for her party in a weekend
election in Germany’s most populous state.

The German chancellor said the vote did not change her view
that fiscal rigour was the best path for Europe, although it
highlighted resistance among Germans to enduring the kind of
austerity she has forced on debt-laden southern nations.

May 13, 2012

Austerity blow for Merkel in German state election

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives suffered a crushing defeat on Sunday in an election in Germany’s most populous state, a result which could embolden the left opposition to step up attacks on her European austerity policies.

The election in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), a western German state with a bigger population than the Netherlands and an economy the size of Turkey, was held 18 months before a national vote in which Merkel will be fighting for a third term.

May 13, 2012

Merkel’s party routed in big German state

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives suffered a crushing defeat on Sunday in an election in Germany’s most populous state, a result which could embolden the left opposition to step up its criticism of her European austerity policies.

The election in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), a western German state with a bigger population than the Netherlands and an economy the size of Turkey, was held 18 months before a national election in which Merkel is expected to fight for a third term.

May 13, 2012

Merkel faces rout in state vote over austerity

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) – Voting began on Sunday in Germany’s most populous state where Angela Merkel’s conservatives face a defeat that could give the left momentum before next year’s federal election and fuel criticism of the chancellor’s European austerity drive.

North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), an industrial state in western Germany with an economy and population roughly the size of the Netherlands, has a history of influencing national politics.

May 11, 2012

Germany tells Greece not to stray if it wants cash

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany told Greece on Friday that staying in the euro zone was its own choice and that it must not stray from austerity if it expects to get international cash.

It also laid out its support for a European ‘growth pact’ in an attempt to deflect criticism that its insistence on austerity has exacerbated Athens’ debt woes.

May 10, 2012

Europe can’t help Greece unless it helps itself: Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) – European Union paymaster Germany warned Greece on Thursday that European partners could only go on aiding debt-ridden Athens if it sticks to an international bailout program rejected by voters in a general election.

Financial markets, spooked by the risk of a disorderly Greek default spreading turmoil, steadied as Spain’s move to clean up its banks and the release of a key payment to Athens eased immediate concerns about the euro zone.

May 10, 2012

Merkel resists calls to put growth before reforms

BERLIN, May 10 (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected
calls from her centre-left opponents in Germany and Europe for
economic stimulus policies that rely on new debt, warning
parliament on Thursday that “growth on credit” would just tip
Europe deeper into crisis.

Since the election of Socialist Francois Hollande as French
president on Sunday, Merkel has come under pressure to relax the
austerity measures that, as leader of Europe’s biggest economy,
she has prescribed as the remedy for the euro zone debt crisis.

May 9, 2012

Insight: German sect victims seek escape from Chilean nightmare past

KREFELD, Germany (Reuters) – - Werner Schmidtke has a recurring nightmare: he is in a room full of boys strapped to metal beds, naked and blindfolded with wax plugs in their ears, being tortured by a man with an electric prod. Any boy who screams is plunged into a tub full of freezing water and given more electric shocks.

For Schmidtke, who is now 51, the scene is all too real. He was subjected to this treatment as a youngster in a building known as “Neukra” (short for “New Hospital” in German) in Colonia Dignidad, a secretive sect set up in central Chile in 1961 by Paul Schaefer, a German World War Two medic turned evangelical preacher.

May 7, 2012

Germany unmoved by anti-austerity votes in Europe

BERLIN, May 7 (Reuters) – Germany is ruling out any
substantive shift in its approach to Europe’s debt crisis
despite a rising chorus of opposition to Berlin’s austerity
policies that reached a crescendo in Sunday’s elections in
Greece and France.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking in Berlin on Monday,
rejected the notion that Europe was on the brink of a major
policy shift after Socialist Francois Hollande defeated her
fellow conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and Greek voters punished
ruling parties who slashed spending to secure a foreign bailout.

    • About Stephen

      "I moved to Berlin to run our German political, economic and general news file in 2010 after nearly four years as chief correspondent in Rome covering Berlusconi, the L'Aquila earthquake, G8 summit and Vatican. I was Nordic and Baltic bureau chief for 3-1/2 years and bureau chief of southern Latin America, based in Buenos Aires, for eight years including the Argentine collapse in 2001/2002. My first assignments for Reuters were in Spain, Portugal and our HQ in London. Before Reuters I worked for the Financial Times Group."
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