• Germany edition
 
Biggest German state heads for early election
Photo: DPA

Biggest German state heads for early election

Published: 14 Mar 2012 17:24 GMT+01:00
Updated: 14 Mar 2012 17:24 GMT+01:00

State premier Hannelore Kraft of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) had been ruling in a minority government with the Greens for less than two years – on one vote short of a majority.

But on Wednesday opposition parties, the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the socialist Left party refused to endorse part of the state budget.

Kraft had threatened to dissolve the parliament in Düsseldorf should that happen, and on Wednesday afternoon the major parties voted in favour, triggering an election within 60 days.

“Thankyou, that we in this nearly two years, we have been able to move forward with something that at first no-one had believed in,” said Kraft, in a nod to the opposition parties, which had supported her minority government in votes on education reform and municipal financing.

An initial poll suggested that while the SPD-Green government could fare well in the new election, the FDP would be wiped off the state parliament map.

The survey conducted by polling firm YouGov for the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper’s Thursday edition showed the SPD and CDU both securing 33 percent of the vote, and the Greens improving their previous performance of 12 percent to reach 17 percent.

The FDP would get just two percent, well below the five-percent minimum needed to send any representative to parliament. The Pirate Party would get seven percent, securing their first entry to the North Rhine-Westphalia parliament, while the Left party would be left teetering on the edge of representation with five percent.

This would give the SPD-Green coalition 50 percent of the vote and leave CDU in opposition without a viable potential coalition partner.

When asked how they would vote when given the chance to elect their state premier directly, 42 percent said Kraft would be their choice while just 21 percent said they wanted the CDU candidate Norbert Röttgen – currently federal environment minister.

“I will lead the party in the election, and I will lead it in the election to become the strongest party and state premier,” he said on Wednesday, although there was no indication of which coalition partner he might secure to form a government.

Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the new election in North Rhine-Westphalia, but said it had nothing to do with federal politics.

“The work on the federal level is completely independent from the work in the states,” she said, according to Die Welt newspaper.

“If it should come to new elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, then I believe it is good and right that we would no longer have a minority government there.”

The loss of the CDU’s preferred coalition partner, the FDP, in North Rhine-Westphalia would be taken as a signal for the probability of a similar development nationally – as the FDP has been bumping along the bottom of national polls, with around two percent support, for months.

The Local/DAPD/DPA/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

19:06 March 14, 2012 by The-ex-pat
There was me thinking that we still had another three years of peace and quiet before the usual bunch of liars try and blow smoke up our collective rectal cavities.
19:48 March 14, 2012 by TheCrownPrince
Serves them right. NRW's borrowing is appalling. Where other German states cut and cut to balance their budget, NRW merrily drowns in debt. Old joke: what happens if the SPD runs the Sahara? The sand will be short in supply soon.
Today's headlines
North braces for storms and floods
Cars waiting to be loaded onto the ferry at Bremerhaven, Lower Saxony, were caught in flooding on Wendnesday. Photo: DPA

North braces for storms and floods

UPDATE: The remnants of hurricane Gonzalo have drifted across the Atlantic and are now threatening North German cities with flooding, forecasters warned on Wednesday. The news followed a night of accidents caused by heavy winds in southern Germany. READ  

Kerry's challenge to Russia at Berlin Wall
US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Berlin Wall. Photo: DPA

Kerry's challenge to Russia at Berlin Wall

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited remnants of the Berlin Wall on Wednesday and warned that East-West tensions again threaten freedom in Europe, 25 years after its collapse. READ  

Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Sonneborn in the EU Parliament. Photo: DPA

Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train

Martin Sonneborn can’t believe his luck. The German comedian, leader of the political party “Die Partei”, managed to get elected to the European Parliament in May, and has found himself overwhelmed with fresh material. READ  

The Local List
Which high school cliche is your city?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock

Which high school cliche is your city?

This week's Local List takes a leap of imagination and finds German cities fit perfectly into high school cliche categories. Who's the class clown? Who's the nerd? READ  

Indian schools drop German teaching
Indian pupils enrolled in German classes prepare for Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's visit to their school. Photo: DPA

Indian schools drop German teaching

Thousands of children in India will no longer be taught German after the country's education ministry allowed a contract to lapse. READ  

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt
A passenger plane landing at Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt

Three teenage girls from Colorado were arrested by German police at Frankfurt airport after running away from home, reportedly on their way to join Isis in Syria. READ  

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine
Tuesday night's rescue operation Photo: DPA

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine

Six people, including a family and two American tourists, were left dangling 40 metres in the air over the Rhine for hours late on Tuesday after Cologne's cable car came to a halt. READ  

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome
Arjen Robben celebrates the first goal against AS Roma. Photo: DPA

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome

Bayern Munich were elated on Tuesday night after securing a 7-1 victory against Roma in their group stage Champions League clash. READ  

Nazi U-boat wreck found off US coast
A preserved World War II U-Boat on the beach near Kiel, Germany. Photo: DPA

Nazi U-boat wreck found off US coast

A World War II German U-boat and an American merchant vessel it sank in battle have been found deep in the ocean off the coast of North Carolina, officials said on Tuesday. READ  

Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?
Coming soon? Photo: DPA

Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?

Berlin's bid to set up a free city-wide wireless network has so far come to nothing. But city bosses are now trying for a fourth time - and hope to have the project running next year. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,491
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd