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Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (R-Nev.), who filed to end debate on the bill by cloture, accused Republicans of playing politics in an election year. It's unlikely that any legislation will be passed before the November election.


German election raises doubts for Merkel

The liberal coalition’s victory in Lower Saxony is not a good omen for the conservative chancellor.

For Angela Merkel, the worst possible results emerged from state elections in Lower Saxony Sundayâ??suddenly raising serious questions about the political survival this fall of Germanyâ??s â??Iron Chancellorâ? and America’s most reliable ally in Europe.

With much of the world watching the race in Germanyâ??s fourth most populous state, Merkelâ??s CDU (conservative) party and its Free Democratic (libertarian) Party ally were edged out of power by one seat in the state parliament by the leftist opposition. In what the BBC called a â?? knife-edge finish,â? Social Democrats and Greens won a combined 46.3 percent of the vote to percent to 45.9 percent for â??Team Merkel.â?

Were these figures translated into national election returns this September, Merkel would either lose her bid for a third term as chancellor or be forced to cobble together a new coalition with the Greens or a â??grand coalitionâ? with the Social Democrats such as that through which she ruled before her landslide re-election in 2009. In either scenario, the â??Iron Chancellorâ? would not have the political clout she now has and would undoubtedly be forced to govern with concessions to the left.

Simply put, with Lower Saxony the fourth state election to turn out Merkelâ??s allies in favor of the left since she began her current term in 2009, the chancellor once thought unbeatable is now facing the fight of her life this September. Social Democratic leader Peer SteinbrĂŒck, a former finance minister who has so far run what many consider an inept campaign, is suddenly being looked upon as a heavyweight contender.

In addition, the Greens are increasingly flexing political muscle. Known primarily as a militantly environmentalist party in the 1980s and early ’90s, the modern Greens have toned down their rhetoric and are primarily identified as a party of reformers whose most radical proposal is higher taxes. In the state of Baden WĂŒrtemberg, headquarters of both Porsche and Mercedes Benz, the premier is Green Winfried Kretschman, a practicing Roman Catholic and philosophical centrist. In Lower Saxony, the Greens won a handsome 13.5 percent of the vote, which, combined with the Social Democratsâ?? 32.4 percent, proved just enough for the left to win.

The left’s victory may have longer term results on German politics. Like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the U.S., Lower Saxony State Premier David McAllister had been considered one of the brightest stars on the right. At 42, accompanied by bagpipers (he has a German mother and Scottish father) and his supporters brandishing placards with the slogan â??Iâ??m a Mac”, the magnetic McAllister was considered the heir apparent to Merkel as chancellor. Merkel herself invested considerable political capital by campaigning with McAllister and appearing with him at an election eve rally outside Hanover.

Now he is out of power and Hanover Mayor Stephan Weil will form the new state government. More than a few now talk of Weil as a future Social Democratic leader and chancellor.

So it was not a good night for Angela Merkel, her conservative allies, or the chancellorâ??s admirers in official Washington. At most, they can console themselves in knowing that September and national elections are eight months away.

Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com