Home News Elections in Germany’s North Rhine Westphalia – key facts

Elections in Germany’s North Rhine Westphalia – key facts

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The election in Germany’s western state of North Rhine Westphalia on Sunday is wide open – which was historically not at all the case.

The election in Germany’s western state of North Rhine Westphalia on Sunday is wide open – which was historically not at all the case.

Home to the Ruhr region with its heavy industry, North Rhine Westphalia was long a bastion of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SDP), but those days are long gone.

Since 2017, the state – regional capital Dusseldorf – has been ruled by a centre-right coalition made up of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the pro-business liberals of the Free Democratic Party (FDP).

Who is running?

As many as 29 parties with 1,375 candidates are campaigning for office, although pre-election polling indicates that only five parties will sit in the next state parliament, with a sixth holding an outside chance of clearing the 5% hurdle when it comes to voter share.

Which party will win?

Recent polls put the CDU on just over 30% and the SPD on just under 30%, the Greens on around 16% and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) on around 7%, with the hard-left Die Linke unlikely to make the cut on between 3% and 4%.

Who are the main candidates?

Hendrik Wüst leads the CDU field, after taking over as state premier from Armin Laschet at the end of October. Laschet currently sits in the national parliament in Berlin, the Bundestag, after failing in his bid to be German chancellor in the federal elections last year.

The SPD is led by Thomas Kutschaty, who served as state justice minister in the SPD-Green coalition that governed the state up to 2017.

What are the main issues?

While domestic issues, including the handling of the pandemic, finally shutting down the state’s once all-important coal sector, education and housing, have dominated the campaign, the war in Ukraine, along with concerns over rising fuel and energy prices and energy security in general, have also played a role.

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