A bitter defeat for Merkel months before German election
BERLIN (REUTERS) - In an extremely tight German state election that seemed to produce few clearcut winners, there was no argument over who the biggest loser was - Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Her Christian Democrats (CDU), led by rising star David McAllister, convinced themselves over the past week that they were on the verge of a stunning come-from-behind victory in Lower Saxony, a major agricultural and industrial region that is Germany's closest approximation to a swing state.
On Sunday, however, they came up agonisingly short, losing power to the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens that together garnered just one more seat in the state assembly than the centre-right.
The defeat is a bitter one for Dr Merkel, even if she remains a strong favourite to win a third term in a federal election eight months from now.