Hannelore Kraf, the SDP rival to Angela Merkel

 
Hannelore Kraf, the SDP rival to Angela Merkel
Hannelore Kraft, Social Democratic party (SPD) federal state premier of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) holds a bunch of roses as she campaigns in the western German city of Guetersloh April 19, 2012, for the upcoming May 13, 2012, state elections in Germany's most populous federal state NRW. Under Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany has forced high-debt countries like Greece, Ireland and Portugal to accept painful austerity as a condition for financial aid. Spain and Italy are also making unprecedented budget cuts in a desperate bid to avoid bailouts. But in NRW, a rust-belt state whose debt has swelled to a record 180 billion euros ($237.74 billion), the electorate is rejecting Merkel's message of fiscal responsibility and embracing the SPD's go-slowly approach, which promises investments in children, education and NRW's ailing cities. Picture taken April 19. TO GO WITH STORY GERMANY-ELECTION/DEBT REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS BUSINESS)