World Bulletin / News Desk
Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives suffered a crushing defeat on Sunday in an election in Germany's most populous state, exit polls showed, a result which could embolden the left opposition to step up attacks on her European austerity policies.
The election in North Rhine-Westphalia, 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.
She remains popular at home for her steady handling of the euro zone debt crisis, but the sheer scale of her party's defeat respresents a heavy blow that could tilt the German political landscape and leave her more vulnerable to domestic critics.
According to an exit poll for public broadcaster ARD, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) won 39 percent of the vote and will have enough to form a stable majority with the Greens, who scored 12 percent.
The two left-leaning parties had run a fragile minority government for the past two years under popular SPD leader Hannelore Kraft, whose decisive victory on Sunday could propel her to national prominence.
Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) saw their support plunge to just 26 percent, down from nearly 35 percent in 2010, and the worst result in the state since World War Two.
The Free Democrats (FDP), a pro-business party that rules in coalition with Merkel's conservatives at the federal level, looked to have made it back into the state assembly, in what many will see as a rebound for the party after a collapse in support in recent years.
The upstart Pirates, a new party that campaigns for internet freedom, continued their strong run at regional level, making it into their fourth straight state parliament, the exit polls showed.
French foreign ministry official said that '147 heads of state and government are expected' at the highly-anticipated Conference of Parties
Bratislava intends to lodge the suit with the European Court of Justice, which adjudicates in disputes over how EU law is interpreted and applied
French President comes for talks with US President Obama on how to confront the threat posed by the ISIL group in the wake of the Paris attacks
Putin brands the downing by Turkey of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border a 'stab in the back' committed by 'accomplices of terrorists'
European and Pakistani officials are meeting to discuss the details of the procedure
Washington and Paris stepped up their fight against ISIL, with France launching its first strikes from an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean and the US calling for more international cooperation against the extremist group
Record number of complaints over story alleging one in five British Muslims had ‘sympathy for jihadis’ as it emerges that YouGov refused to carry out poll
Black Sea peninsula has been hit by power cuts since an explosion at the weekend cut power lines from Ukraine, which supplies 90 per cent of its electricity
A widely circulated picture of a woman taking a bath is not the reported suicide bomber in Paris.
Russian economy forecast to contract by minus 3.8 percent in 2015, improving to minus 0.6 percent in 2016, International Monetary Fund says
The US has issues a worldwide travel alert to remain in place until the end of February 2016.
The Israeli army has hit out at a Hamas military post in the Gaza Strip
David Cameron has revealed plans for more troops, aircraft and ships following a review of the UK defense and security plans
UN General Assembly's Third Committee has adopted a resolution urging international community to support Palestinian efforts for statehood
Soldiers in Brussels continue to monitor the streets as the Belgian government extends its terror alert