THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - It was Super Wednesday - a day dreaded by many in the European Union not so long ago.
By nightfall though, a sigh of relief settled across much of the continent. From ornately dressed judges in Germany to Dutch voters biking to polling stations and nervous traders on the stock floors, much went the way European Union leaders were hoping.
Early in the day, perhaps the biggest decision of all came from the constitutional court in Germany, which had to rule on that country's participation in a euro500 billion ($640 billion) bailout fund, underpinning efforts to contain the debt crisis. Rule against it and financial chaos beckoned. A staunchly independent institution, the Federal Constitutional Court still went with the government and the rescue program.
"It is a good day for Europe," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
In the Netherlands, the strong showing of euroskeptic politicians during the summer campaign threatened to turn a founding member of the EU into a liability for those seeking closer cooperation in Europe to deal with the debt crisis.
When the exit polls showed, it became clear outgoing prime minister Mark Rutte and social democrat Diederik Samsom would be in the driving seat to form the next government. Both see European cooperation as the way ahead.
Boosted by the ruling in Germany, markets around the world were going up and the much-maligned euro breached $1.29 for the first time in four months. And instead of a fast slide downwards in case of a court rejection, stocks markets held their own, with some even showing slight gains.
"There is only good news today," Piotr Kaczynski of the Center for European Policy Studies said, in marked contrast with the months of depressing developments that had some predicting the demise of the euro currency and the disintegration of the 27-nation EU.
"It shows a Europe that is trying to turn the page. It is a good sign for Europe to get out of the rut," Kaczynski said.
Whether it is a turning point is far too early to tell. As the positive news spread around Europe, Greece, as so often, spoiled the party with a new wave of strikes to protest spending cuts, which are key to provide the country with rescue loans.