Local elections started on Sunday morning in North Rhine-Westphalia. In this year’s largest nationwide election, about 14 million citizens of the most populous federal state are called to re-elect city councils and district assemblies, as well as mayors, mayors and district administrators.
The polls on the Rhine and Ruhr area are also being judged as a vote test for North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister and CDU Head of State Armin Laschet. The Aachener wants to become federal president of the CDU in December and is considered a possible candidate for chancellor of the Union in next year’s federal elections.
His name is not on a ballot paper. Actually, local elections are only bad as a vote barometer for the state government and its boss. But Laschet insists as proof of eligibility for his application for CDU presidency and, in perspective, the Chancellery itself, that he is the only one of the three CDU candidates to have already won an election. What is the question whether this ballot paper is now seen as a reference to its current winning qualities.
Taking the largest federal state as a whole, Laschet’s maps aren’t bad. The traditional poll nearly two weeks before the elections on behalf of the WDR and several major local newspapers saw the CDU stable in first place despite some losses compared to June. If there were state elections instead of municipal elections, Laschet’s party would get 34 percent.
What can the potential candidates for chancellor expect from the election?
The only major election this year is also exciting for other parties, albeit for very different reasons: Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock can count on a boost for claims from the green government. SPD Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz, on the other hand, faces a setback from a country where his party has been considered unbeatable for decades.
The state figures already show a trend, which opinion polls also indicate for the local elections: Some Greens can count on very strong growth: they are currently just about 22 percent overtaking the SPD (21 percent), the former sole ruler in the Rhine and Ruhr area.
All other parties, including the co-governing FDP with only 7 percent, are floating on low single digit values. The federal trend also plays a role among the liberals; In addition, School Minister Yvonne Gebauer has received a lot of criticism in the corona crisis. The liberals hope for an end to the downward trend in NRW.
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In the NRW municipal elections in 2014, the CDU achieved 37.5 percent, significantly outperforming the SPD with 31.4 percent. Third place went to the Greens with 11.7 percent. The FDP and the left each received 4.7 percent, the AfD 2.6 percent.
Mask required and a minimum distance of 1.5 meters
The local elections on Sunday will take place under special Corona precautions. In all polling stations there is a mask requirement and a minimum distance of 1.5 meters. Voters were asked to bring their own ballpoint pen to tick the box.
Due to the pandemic, many towns in North Rhine-Westphalia have registered a high number of votes in advance by mail. The share of voters by mail could thus even rise to a new record. In the NRW local elections six years ago, this was 26.5 percent. (Teaspoon, AFP)