German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to defend the euro's stability and pledged to crack down on financial market speculators in a last-gasp quest for votes on Saturday before a key state election.
Merkel's conservatives and their Free Democrat (FDP) allies must win Sunday's regional vote in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany's most populous state, to keep their majority in the upper house of parliament.
The poll is widely seen as a referendum on Merkel's six-month-old government. The campaign has been overshadowed by the Merkel government's decision to release billions of euros in loans to Greece as part of an emergency euro zone aid package.
Merkel, who initially resisted agreeing to the aid due to popular opposition, told NRW voters in Bielefeld that euro zone countries were acting to secure the currency's stability and would get tough with market speculators.
"All countries that have the euro as a currency will lead this fight for the stability of the euro together and with resolve," she said. "On the one hand that means solid finances, and on the other hand it means regulation of financial markets."
"Those who created the excesses on the markets will be asked to pay up -- those are in part the banks, those are the hedge funds that must be regulated... those are the short-sellers, and we agreed yesterday to implement this more quickly in Europe."
Euro zone leadersformally approved the Greek bailout on Friday, and said progress was needed on financial market regulation and supervision. [ID:nLDE6462FG] Opinion polls indicate Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the FDP, whose alliance in NRW mirrors a similar power-sharing deal at federal level, are short of the support they need to clinch a majority in the western state.
A defeat would end their majority in the Bundesrat upper house of parliament and cause delays in delivering policies, including tax cuts.
ReutersLast Mod: 08 Mayıs 2010, 18:49