Chancellor Angela Merkel is insisting that a heavy state election defeat for her party in Germany's most populous region won't weaken her as she grapples with a deepening European debt crisis.
Merkel also said Monday that she is "very relaxed" about national elections due in late 2013.
On Sunday, Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats slumped to their worst election result in North Rhine-Westphalia state since World War II, while voters strengthened a regional government that the party had portrayed as irresponsibly spendthrift. The outcome gave new confidence to Germany's center-left opposition.
But Merkel _ insisting the election results were not about her record _ said that her "work in Europe is not affected" by what she conceded was "a bitter, painful defeat."