Elections prompted German nuclear move: report

24th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Looming elections motivated German Chancellor Angela Merkel's recent climb-down on nuclear policy, a Thursday media report quoted a minister as saying, appearing to confirm many critics' suspicions.

Merkel last week announced a three-month suspension of plans to extend the lifetime of nuclear power plants in the wake of Japan's atomic emergency, pending a safety review.

Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle from Merkel's junior coalition partners "confirmed the decision," the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily said, citing minutes of a meeting with industry chiefs on the day of the announcement.

"There is pressure on politicians due to forthcoming state elections and therefore decisions are not always rational," continued the minutes, according to the Sueddeutsche.

On Sunday, voters in the wealthy state of Baden-Wuerttemberg go to the polls with a chance that Merkel's conservatives could lose power for the first time in 58 years as the Greens make gains due to their opposition to nuclear power.

Opposition leaders have slammed Merkel's decision as electioneering and surveys shows that voters too believe it to be "not credible."

Merkel, for her part, has said that everything changed in the wake of the Japanese disaster and that the government needs time to investigate the safety of nuclear power.

"During the whole handling of the topic, the federal government has not been thinking of elections but of the turning point that the events in Japan mean -- or might mean -- for the peaceful use of nuclear energy," said her spokesman.

© 2011 AFP

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