The election campaign in the most populous German federal state was a matter for the boss. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (63) took the whole Saturday on April 2 to publicly back the SPD candidate Thomas Kutschaty (53) in North Rhine-Westphalia. Six weeks later it is clear: the chancellor bonus did not materialize. On the contrary, Olaf Scholz even stood in the way of electoral success in NRW.
Because last Sunday the Social Democrats achieved their worst result in NRW since the end of the Second World War with 26.7 percent – and that after the SPD election debacle in Schleswig-Holstein just a week earlier. The FDP also landed hard. She lost more than half of the votes compared to the 2017 election and only just made it into the Düsseldorf state parliament with 5.9 percent. The continuation of the black-yellow government coalition is therefore playful.
Election campaign overshadowed by war in Ukraine
Meanwhile, the blacks and the greens triumph. The incumbent CDU Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (46) is happy about 35.7 percent of the votes. And the Greens were even able to triple their election result with 18.2 percent. The AfD moves into parliament with 5.4 percent. The left fails with 2.1 percent at the five percent hurdle.
What did the losers do wrong? Wrong candidates? Weak programs? For expert Stefan Marschall (53), professor at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf (D), the election campaign was overshadowed by the Ukraine crisis. “People were concerned with the war, with energy security, with the general rise in prices,” says the political scientist, “state-political issues such as schools, housing and transport receded into the background.”
Voter turnout at historic lows
Apparently the electorate punished the chancellor’s scheming in the matter of supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine. «Olaf Scholz showed no clear line and major communicative deficits. That has been criticized in many places,” says Stefan Marschall. It was mainly SPD voters who stayed away from the polls. The turnout of 55.5 percent is also historically low.
The electorate is similarly dissatisfied with the FDP. “It is weakened at federal level, shows little profile and is now acting in the Ukraine crisis against the basic genetics of the party, which actually lies in budget consolidation,” says the German political scientist. The green federal ministers, on the other hand, showed themselves to be strong. “Economics Minister Robert Habeck (52) and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (41) as well as other Green politicians are considered good minds and competent in combating climate change,” says Stefan Marschall.