North rhine-westphalia faces exciting election

North Rhine-Westphalia faces exciting election

SPD minister president hannelore kraft fights for a stable red-green majority. According to the polls, this seems possible. On saturday, the parties concluded the election campaign. Because of the good 13.2 million eligible voters, the ballot in NRW is also considered a small federal election.

Accordingly, the outcome in berlin is being followed closely with a view to the 2013 federal election year. The election could have repercussions for the black-yellow government of chancellor angela merkel (CDU). Above all, the future of the FDP, which has long been in crisis under its controversial federal chairman, vice chancellor philipp rosler, is in the spotlight.

According to the polls, a five-party parliament of SPD, CDU, greens, FDP and pirate party seems likely. The left’s prospects of making it back into office, on the other hand, look bleak. No party has categorically ruled out certain alliances in the almost two-month NRW election campaign. In the final spurt, the parties wooed voters with celebrities right up to the last minute.

To support FDP top candidate christian lindner, party leader rosler and auben minister guido westerwelle also came to dusseldorf on saturday. Lindner again spoke out in favor of government thrift: "it’s not the state’s revenues that are too low, but the expectations of the state that are too high," he said at the final rally.

On friday evening, the CDU’s top candidate, federal environment minister norbert rottgen, once again linked the NRW election to chancellor angela merkel’s policies. In the presence of the head of government, he said in dusseldorf: "the election sunday also serves to ensure that our chancellor for her national policy, for her european policy (…) gets full support from dusseldorf instead of always only headwind and stick between the legs."

In recent days, rottgen had been warned by his own party not to link a possible election defeat with merkel. Merkel called on listeners in dusseldorf to go to the polls on sunday. "North rhine-westphalia must become stronger," she said. Rottgen left it open until the very end whether he would come to dusseldorf as opposition leader in the event of a defeat.

SPD leader sigmar gabriel highlighted the achievements of minister-president kraft at the finale in bochum. Her election as deputy federal chairwoman in 2009 marked the beginning of the rise of social democracy. Since then, she said, the SPD has celebrated successes in many federal states. "We want to continue this."

The polls put the SPD at 37 to 38 percent and the CDU well behind at 30 to 31 percent. The greens have 11 percent, the pirates 8 percent and the FDP 6 percent. Left-wing party misses out on return to state parliament with 3 percent. This gave red-green a clear majority.

Shortly before the election, accusations of alleged "thank-you orders" to a communications agency caused a stir for the red-green government. The rejected the reproaches.

The north rhine-westphalia election could indicate whether a two-party coalition beyond the grand coalition still has a chance. If the SPD and the greens do not win a majority, a traffic light coalition with the FDP would also be conceivable. However, lindner has repeatedly voiced his opposition to this, primarily because of the differences with the greens in budgetary policy. Even a rough coalition is not excluded. This is what the FDP is counting on if it is not enough for red-green.

For the pirates with their top candidate joachim paul, entry into the fourth state parliament after berlin, saarland and schleswig-holstein seems almost certain. The greens hope for a similar result as in 2010 (12.1 percent) – and that they will again be able to provide the deputy head of government in the person of school minister sylvia lohrmann.

1085 candidates compete for at least 181 seats in NRW state parliament. 17 parties are running on state lists.