Angela Merkel’s CDU completed a hat-trick of 2017 state election wins on Sunday with a stunning victory in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Of the three, this result is by far the most significant, by virtue not only of the size and political clout of ‘NRW’, but also the scale of the turnaround, which saw a switch in control from a previous Social Democrat-Green coalition to a probable Christian Democrat-Free Democrat centre-right alliance.
Germany’s most populous state, NRW traditionally votes just a few months ahead of national parliamentary elections, in what is often described as a ‘mini General election’. Merkel will therefore take great heart from a near 7-point gain in vote share, with the SPD falling back by 8, and losing 30 seats in so doing (albeit in a reduced-size state legislature).
The liberal Free Democrats (FDP) will also be delighted, having taken over third place from the slumping Green party and now being well-placed to enter coalition talks with the CDU, albeit with a very narrow majority in prospect.
For the populist AfD a score of 7.4 per cent brings a sizeable parliamentary delegation in Duesseldorf and marks another step towards complete representation in all regional parliaments.
Die Linke (The Left) practically doubled their vote share but fell tantalizingly short of the 5 per cent hurdle for parliamentary representation. And as elsewhere in Germany, it was wipe-out time for the Pirates, now almost a footnote in political history.
Turnout was up by over 5 percentage points, echoing improvements in participation in the previous state elections in Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein.
NORDRHEIN-WESTFALEN 14 May 2017
Second vote scores for Landtag, per cent
(change 2012 election in brackets)
Christian Democrats (CDU) 33.0 (+6.6)
Social Democrats (SPD) 31.2 (-7.9)
Free Democrats (FDP) 12.6 (+4.0)
Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) 7.4 (n/a)
Greens (Die Gruenen) 6.4 (-5.0)
Left (Die Linke) 4.9 (+2.4)
Pirates (Piraten) 1.0 (-6.9)
Others 3.7 (-0.6)
Total votes 8,577,221
Invalid votes 122,031
Valid votes 8,455,190
Turnout 65.2% (2012: 59.6%)
Seat allocations in Landtag
Christian Democrats (CDU) 72 (+5)
Social Democrats (SPD) 69 (-30)
Free Democrats (FDP) 28 (+6)
Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) 16 (+5)
Greens (Die Gruenen) 14 (-15)
Pirates (Piraten) 0 (-20)
Left (Die Linke) 0 (nc)
Others 0 (nc)
Total seats 199 (previously 237)
Source: Landeswahlleiter des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen. Full official results here.
UPDATE 27.07.2017 After several weeks of negotiations, a CDU-FDP coalition government was confirmed in the state parliament today. It obtained 100 of 199 possible votes in a confidence motion (78 against, 2 abstentions, 16 invalid votes). Armin Laschet (CDU) becomes state Prime Minister.
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