What you need to know on Election Day

Initial status, right to vote, candidates and opening hours: Here you will find an overview of everything you need to know on state election day in North Rhine-Westphalia.

North Rhine-Westphalia has long ceased to be the “home” of Social Democracy. The SPD and the CDU have rotated in government in recent electoral periods. The CDU/FDP coalition has been governing the most populous federal state since 2017.

A new state parliament will be elected on Sunday (15 May). Polling stations are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The race is fully open. The CDU and the SDP are volatile in the polls. Elections in North Rhine-Westphalia are also referred to as “small federal elections” and are an important test for federal parties.

the facts: About 13 million people are entitled to vote in the most populous federal state. About 786,000 first-time voters. 29 parties are allowed to vote with state lists. The state parliament is elected for a term of five years. A total of 1,375 people applied for a seat in the state parliament.

suffrage: Each voter can place two crosses on the ballot paper. The first vote determines direct delegation in the constituency. The party’s state list is elected by a second vote. There is a five percent obstacle. At least 181 MPs are elected for five-year terms – 128 of them as direct candidates and 53 via state lists. All Germans who have reached the age of 18 on Election Day and have lived in the NRW since at least April 29, 2022 are entitled to vote.

Initial mode: Five parliamentary blocs are currently represented in the state parliament. In 2017, a total of 199 MPs moved to the NRW Parliament due to the mandate and compensation burden. The CDU/FDP replaced the Red-Green Alliance and had only one vote majority.

The CDU won the 2017 elections by 33% of the SPD (31.2%). The Free Democratic Party came in third with 12.6 percent, followed by the AfD, which entered the state parliament for the first time with 7.4 percent. The Greens fell to 6.4 percent in 2017. In the AfD, three MPs have left the parliamentary group now unaffiliated.

employees: The CDU sends Prime Minister Hendrik Fust (46) to the race. And the post of the ex-Minister of State Transport took over at the end of October only from Armin Laschet, who failed as a candidate for the post of Union Chancellor. The SPD’s rival is party and faction leader Thomas Kochati (53), who was Minister of Justice under Red Green. The Green Party’s top candidate is state party leader Mona Neubur (44). Minister for Family and Refugees Joachim Stump (51), who is also Deputy Prime Minister, started the FDP. The AfD’s first candidate is parliamentary leader Markus Wagner (57).

Campaign: While the topic of Corona faded into the background, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine shaped the election campaign recently. Energy security, coal phase-out, inflation, increased fuel and energy prices as well as climate change are major issues along with school policy, homeland security and affordable housing. The resignation of Environment Minister Ursula Heinen Esser (CDU), who celebrated with members of the government in Mallorca a few days after the flood disaster in July 2021, no longer plays a role in the final campaign race.

The election: Election night should be exciting, because several polls in recent weeks predict a very tight race between the CDU and the SPD. Recently, surveys of various opinion research institutes have seen little progress for the CDU. Thus the Christian Democrats could reach 30 to 32 percent and the Social Democrats to 28 to 29 percent. Opinion polls for the Greens range between 16 and 18 percent and could score their best result in the state election. The FDP can count on only 6 to 8 percent, and the AfD with 6 to 8 percent. With about 3 percent, the left would lose out on entering the state parliament.

options: A new version of the Black-Yellow Alliance is mathematically unlikely, also due to the weakness of the FDP. But there are several options for the next state government. According to the surveys, in addition to a rather unpopular large alliance between CDU and SPD, it would be possible to create a black-green alliance or a Jamaican alliance of CDU, Greens and FDP. The SPD could also form a traffic light coalition with the Greens and the Free Democratic Party, as in the federal government. According to individual surveys, it can also be enough for the majority of red and green.

Prime Minister West would like to continue ruling with the FDP, but the Liberals, like the Greens, are keeping all options open. Given their power, the Greens could become the “king maker” in government formation. SPD top candidate Kuchati can imagine forming a traffic light coalition as in the federal government.


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