• 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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

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
German squad leaves out one-legged long jumper
Markus Rehm. Photo: DPA

German squad leaves out one-legged long jumper

German athletics officials said on Wednesday they would not nominate the country's long jump champion Markus Rehm for the European championships because of fears his prosthetic leg gives him an unfair advantage. READ  

Second man arrested after synagogue attack
The synagogue on Tuesday after the attack. Photo: DPA

Second man arrested after synagogue attack

Police arrested a second suspect on Wednesday in connection with an attempted arson attack in which Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue in western Germany. Another man who said he was Palestinian has denied involvement. READ  

German women fall short of equality
Still a man's world: women in Germany find it hard to rise as high as Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: DPA

German women fall short of equality

Women in Germany are still underrepresented in leadership jobs and among professors, a new government report said on Wednesday. They are also paid less and remain unlikely to study science, technology, engineering or mathematics. READ  

The Local List
Five reasons to visit (and to avoid) Oktoberfest
Photo: DPA

Five reasons to visit (and to avoid) Oktoberfest

With just over 50 days to go until Munich's Oktoberfest starts, it is time to book your train/plane/horse to the world’s biggest beer festival. Or is it? The Local List looks at five reasons you should be making that trip, and five why you'd better steer clear. READ  

Visa chaos hits Bayern Munich's USA tour
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Photo: DPA

Visa chaos hits Bayern Munich's USA tour

Bayern Munich boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is among the club's staff and players who could not join a week-long tour to the USA on Wednesday because of visa problems. READ  

Dead TV star replies to SPD party invite
German actress Renater Küster with a statue of her late husband Dieter Hildebrandt. Photo: DPA

Dead TV star replies to SPD party invite

The Social Democrats (SPD) accidentally invited a dead TV star to attend its summer party. It got a shock when the veteran presenter replied saying, "I can't make it". READ  

Father killed in 'Cold Water Challenge'
The digger tipped over. Photo: DPA

Father killed in 'Cold Water Challenge'

A father died and five of his friends were injured on Tuesday night in western Germany when a digger fell on top of them during a so-called Cold Water Challenge. READ  

Huge Bavarian crop circle puzzles crowds
Raisting crop circle. Photo: DPA

Huge Bavarian crop circle puzzles crowds

A mysterious crop circle in Bavaria has attracted thousands of visitors since it was spotted in a wheat field last week. READ  

German siblings killed by drunk driver in Austria
Photo: DPA

German siblings killed by drunk driver in Austria

A ten-year-old girl and her 21-year-old brother were killed overnight in a road accident on the A1 motorway in Upper Austria, caused by a drunk driver who was driving on the wrong side of the road. READ  

Merkel: Russia sanctions were 'inevitable'
Merkel warned further sanctions could be imposed against Russia. Photo: DPA

Merkel: Russia sanctions were 'inevitable'

Strong sanctions imposed by the EU against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis were “inevitable”, Chancellor Angela Merkel claimed on Tuesday night, despite Germany's initial reluctance to get tough on President Vladimir Putin. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Have Your Say: Should Germany legalize cannabis?
Photo: DPA
Education
Germany's students fail to graduate in time
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Hamburg harbour lit up in blue
Business & Money
JobTalk: 'Application process is failing'
Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825
Culture
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
instagram.com/gotzemario
Gallery
Germany's World Cup stars share their holiday photos
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
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

3,253
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd