German Chancellor Olaf Schulz’s party stormed a crucial regional election on Sunday as Social Democrats demanded a historically low turnout. The Greens, their partner in the national government, have almost tripled their support in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and are now ready to play a kingmaker role in forming the next federal government.
NRW is the most populous region in Germany, with 13 million registered voters and is a political and economic powerhouse. Sunday’s election was held in Germany, six months after the general election to bring Schultz to power.
Regional voting is considered a ‘mini-federal election’ that serves as a bellwether for national politics. Schulz personally campaigned for his Social Democratic Party (SPD) leading candidate, Thomas Kutshatti, and turned it into a symbolic referendum on his policy.
Estimated results indicate a huge loss for the SPD, which dropped from 31.2% in 2017 to just 27% of the vote. The party has never scored less than 30% in the region since the creation of modern Germany after World War II. .
The opposition Christian Democrats (CDU), which had been in power in Germany for 16 years under former Chancellor Angela Merkel, came out on top in the last election with 33% to 36% of the vote.
Greens showed the biggest gain with 18% of the vote, up from 6.4% four years ago. The Free Democrats (FDP), the CDU’s coalition partner in the current NRW government, and the Alternative for Germany (AFD) party have both dealt a blow.
The CDU-FDP bloc no longer has enough seats in the regional parliament to ensure the continuity of government, so the Greens are now able to act as kingmakers. Hendrik Wust of the CDU has the strongest demand for a new ruling coalition, with Greens as its most likely partner. As he celebrated the victory, he said it was his next step to negotiate a coalition after the Christian Democrats received a clear mandate from voters to stay in power, but did not make any specific proposals.
However, a “traffic light coalition” of Social Democrats, Free Democrats and Greens – the same party that controls Germany’s federal government – is at the same table. Mona Newbauer, the party’s top candidate, thanked her counterpart from other parties – with the exception of the excluded right-wing AfD – for running a fair and dignified nation and said the Greens were ready. “Take responsibility” For the region.
This was the second electoral flop for the CDU this month after last week’s defeat in the northern federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. The Christian Democrats won it through a landslide, with Greens in second place.
Towards the end of March, the Social Democrats won a historic landslide by occupying an absolute majority in a small area of Saarland.
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