US & Canada

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker wins recall

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Media captionMomentum is with the Republicans now that they have held onto this seat, as Jonny Dymond reports.

The Republican governor of the US state of Wisconsin has survived an attempt to oust him from office in a recall vote, only the third such vote in US history.

Scott Walker won 53% in an election engineered by opponents of his law limiting the collective bargaining rights of most public sector unions.

More than 900,000 called for the vote after angry protests over the reforms.

Republicans said the vote would boost their prospects in Wisconsin in November's presidential election.

The state has backed the Democrats in every presidential election since 1988.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who will be challenging President Barack Obama, was quick to congratulate Mr Walker.

"Tonight's results will echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin. Governor Walker has shown that citizens and taxpayers can fight back - and prevail - against the runaway government costs imposed by labour bosses," Mr Romney said.

The White House, though, insisted that the result was not a harbinger of tough times for the president.

"What you had was an incumbent governor in a repeat election that he had won once, in which he outspent his challenger by a magnitude of seven or eight to one with an enormous amount of outside corporate money and huge donations," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

"I certainly wouldn't read much into yesterday's result beyond who is occupying the governor's seat in Wisconsin."

'Shared sacrifice'

The final vote count showed Mr Walker had more than 53%, and Mr Barrett had 46%.

"Tonight, we tell Wisconsin, we tell our country and we tell people all across the globe that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions," he told supporters in his victory speech.

His Democrat challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, was trailing with just over 46% and had admitted defeat.

Voter turnout in Tuesday's election was high.

One voter, Roberta Komor of Wauwatosa, told Reuters that she had voted for Mr Barrett when he ran in 2010, but switched her vote this time, saying unions "need to learn about shared sacrifice".

Mr Walker is only the third governor in US history to face a recall vote and the first to win.

But Mr Walker's campaign was aided by huge sums from big business and strong organisation on the ground, our correspondent says.

His plan to close a state budget deficit of $3.6bn (£2.3bn), partly through public sector reforms, set off weeks of angry protests.

The law eventually passed forced employees to contribute more towards healthcare and pensions and stripping public sector unions of collective bargaining rights.

The Wisconsin Department of Administration has estimated that the state will have a budget surplus by 30 June 2013, ABC News reported .

The fight in Wisconsin reflects the broader national conversation over budgets and the sluggish economic recovery.

Wisconsin is seen as one of a handful of swing states that could be especially important in determining the outcome of the presidential election.

The state has voted Democratic in the last six presidential elections, and in 2008 Barack Obama carried Wisconsin with a 14% margin.

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