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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 In the key state of Baden-Wuerttemberg the anti-nuclear Green party more than doubled their vote to 24.2 percent, allowing them to capture the state’s presidency when combined with Social Democrat allies who garnered 23.1 percent.

CDU’s share of the vote slumped from 44.2 percent in the 2006 state election to 39 percent, according to official figures. The Christian Democrats have held power in the state for almost six decades. The outgoing governor, Stefan Mappus, was a strong advocate of nuclear energy.

“This is a day that has strongly changed the political landscape in Germany,” Green party chairwoman Claudia Roth said in Berlin. 

The outcome of Sunday’s (27 March) election is seen as an important setback for Merkel, whose attempts to stop political contamination from Japan’s nuclear accident appear to have failed.

Directly after news of damage to Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor emerged, the chancellor temporarily suspended production at seven of Germany’s oldest reactors among its 17 nuclear plants. The move was seen by a generally nuclear-sceptic public as electioneering. The switch just did not help and brought about deep mistrust.

Sunday’s vote in the wealthy south-western state of 11 million people followed demonstrations in various German cities over the weekend, with roughly 200,000 people calling for the permanent closure of all reactors at the country’s 17 nuclear plants.

Germany’s Green party also did well in concurrent elections in the Rhineland-Palatinate state, where the ruling Social Democrats will now need them as coalition partners.

The country’s Liberal party (FDP) led by foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, CDU coalition partners, were the seen as the weekend’s big losers in both polls.

EU leaders on Friday agreed to stress test the bloc’s 140-plus nuclear plants, but despite moves in Germany many countries including France and the Czech Republic have shown little appetite for a reduction in their nuclear energy use.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP party also suffered considerable losses during the second round of French local elections over the weekend, the last direct voting before presidential elections next May.

Opposition Socialists emerged as the main winners of the local elections, securing roughly 35 percent of the vote.

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In Austria, Kanzler Faymann of the Austrian Socialist Party (the SPÖ) is expressing his happiness with this week-end’s election results. After all, just last week it turned out that the Former Kanzler Mr. Schuessel is on a yearly retainer of 200.00 EURO from the German biggest nuclear company RWE. – this while the Austrian Environment Minister Niki Berlakovich proposed stress tests for all EU nuclear plants. How will Mr. Schuessel react if an RWE reactor fails the Berlakovich stress test?

But we do not stop at this as we must remark that Austria draws electricity from the Verbund network that includes nuclear plants outside Austria. To us this means that despite the positioneering – Austria is not really nuclear free. Will there be now young people in Vienna, like those in Germany, to protest publicly against all EU nuclear plants?

Will other politicians in the EU learn from the debacle that has befallen Ms. Angela Merkel, the German Kanzler? It seems that the pro-nuclear stand she had just two months ago may now lead to her political demise, and Germany is watching how a chemistry teacher, Winfried Kretschmann, replaces the pro-nuclear Prime Minister Stefan Mappus of that 11 million people State of Baden-Württemberg where the right of center CDU was in power for 58 years.

The Japan disaster has brought so far the Green Party for the first time in German history to head a Prime Minister’s cabinet, and they will be in the rulling coalition in two German States – also in the industrial State of Rheinland-Pfalz. The lack of trust in the honesty of their leaders, as evidenced in nuclear policy issues,  will probably lead to similar results in future elections.

3/11 has the potential of becoming a date to remember as 9/11 is. Then we learned to live with terrorism, now we may have to start to learn to live without nuclear power – or without the security we felt from believing in a life based on unsustainable energy – call it the assumed right to waste energy.

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