• Germany's news in English
 
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

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
Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law
Photo: DPA

Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law

The German Ethics Council said the law should not be changed to permit assisted suicide in a paper published on Friday. READ  

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin
Swan Lake. An abandoned ride in the Spreewald pleasure park. Photo: DPA

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin

The iconic ruined themepark in the centre of Berlin - a long-time favourite of hipster adventurers - needs a clean-up costing at least 14 million euros, the Berlin government has revealed. READ  

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer
File photo of Nuremberg main station: Shutterstock

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer

Officers in Nuremberg arrested a man on Thursday evening after he called in a false bomb threat against the main train station READ  

Opinion
Angela, David...and Nigel
So near...and yet so far Photo: DPA

Angela, David...and Nigel

The rise of UKIP broke up what had been a good 2014 for Cameron and Merkel. READ  

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead
Dr Gunther von Hagens. Photo: DPA

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead

A Berlin court has said that infamous human taxidermist Gunther von Hagens can open a museum in the capital - over objections from local officials. READ  

Presented by Phorms Education
Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech
Photo: Phorms Education

Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech

As parents fret over children’s internet habits, a network of bilingual schools in Germany shows that putting computers in the classroom from an early age yields positive results. READ  

Networks scramble to patch mobile security
Chancellor Angela Merkel has herself been the victim of phone hacking. Photo: DPA

Networks scramble to patch mobile security

IT experts led by Berlin-based Karsten Nohl said on Thursday they had discovered security flaws in the mobile phone networks that would allow attackers to read users' messages. READ  

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport
Photo: DPA

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport

Three men suspected of being Turkish agents have been arrested by police, federal prosecutors said on Thursday. READ  

Tax take jumps 7.3 percent in November
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is having an excellent month. Photo: DPA

Tax take jumps 7.3 percent in November

Germany collected 7.3 percent more in tax in November 2014 than the same month last year thanks to the strengthening economy, the Finance Ministry said in its monthly report on Thursday, while pollsters found rising consumer confidence. READ  

Ramelow bunks off his first Bundesrat sitting
Bodo Ramelow looking low on energy at a sitting of the Thuringia state parliament. Photo: DPA

Ramelow bunks off his first Bundesrat sitting

Controversial new Thuringia minister-president Bodo Ramelow of the Left (Linke) party missed his first session of Germany's second house of parliament, the Bundesrat, to go on holiday with his family. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles through December 19th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
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

3,197
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd