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.
Belarus would ask Russia to send "no more than 12 to 15 planes", indicating that the request had been made under a clause of a "union treaty"
Police stopped protesters from the RCD and MSP who were showing red signs with the word 'Boycott', saying their demonstration was illegal
The one-day meeting appeared to mirror a series of "Friends of Syria" conferences in which Western and Arab nations pledged political and financial support for the rebels
Siderov denies injuring a male passenger and a policeman in an incident on a runway bus at the airport in the Black Sea city of Varna. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison
The statement came in response to Crimea's parliament voting to join Russia and setting a referendum
Abe raised Japan's defence budget for the first time in 11 years, and aims to lift its ban on exercising the right of collective self-defence, or aiding an ally under attack
It is said the Agency may have broken the law when it searched her panel's computers to find out how staff obtained an internal agency review of the U.S. interrogation program of suspects
According to the Treaty of Ankara (1921) signed between France and Turkey, the tomb of Suleyman Shah in Aleppo is officially Turkish territory, which is appointed with Turkish guardians and hosts the Turkish flag.
The prosecutor said it had widened an investigation originally centred on four people with business and personal ties to Karimova to include the daughter of Uzbek president Islam Karimov herself
In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers – often accompanied by Israeli security forces – have repeatedly entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
Moscow, which denies its troops have a role in the takeover of Crimea, says people there - a small majority of whom are ethnic Russians - should have the right to secede
With tourism down around 5 percent, pressure from business community expected to be a major reason.
If approved by EU foreign ministers at a meeting, they would be the first sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russia since the end of the Cold War
Crimea, a southern Ukrainian region which is home to the Russian Black Sea fleet, will vote on Sunday on whether to join Russia.
South Africa said it would not tolerate attacks on its soil against exiled Rwandan opposition members
Finalised after months of political wrangling and likely to spark ultra-Orthodox rage, the legislation will be implemented fully in 2017