In the municipal elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, the CDU again became the strongest force in the town halls, according to an initial forecast, while the SPD suffered significant losses.
Prime Minister Armin Laschet’s CDU can count on 36.2 percent of the national vote after the polls.
In the 2014 local elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, the CDU achieved 37.5 percent and the SPD (31.4 percent) clearly relegated to second place. The SPD only took 23.7 percent in the election on Sunday. The Greens, on the other hand, can improve to 19.1 percent, but are lagging behind the SPD.
The FDP is 4.3 percent (2014: 4.7 percent), left at 3.7 percent (2014: 4.7 percent). According to the forecast, the AfD, which comes out at 5.9 percent (2014: 2.6 percent), can increase.
In local elections in the most populous federal state on Sunday, about 14 million citizens were called to re-elect city councils and district assemblies, as well as mayors, mayors and district administrators. Due to the Corona requirements for the polls, long lines formed in front of the polling stations in many places.
Cologne: Reker has to go into the second round
In Cologne there are signs of a run-off between Mayor Henriette Reker (independent) and her SPD challenger Andreas Kossiski. According to WDR prediction, Reker got 48.5 percent of the vote on Sunday, so she would have just missed the absolute majority. According to the prediction, Kossiski received 24 percent of the vote, Jörg Detjen from the left 7 percent.
Reker has been in office since 2015. The independent politician was supported in the elections by the CDU and the Greens. The FDP, which had also supported the candidacy the first time, was no longer by their side. Pre-election polls had shown that Reker could potentially achieve an absolute majority in the first vote.
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There are also signs of a second election in Dortmund’s mayoral elections. SPD candidate Thomas Westphal received 35.5 percent of the votes. His opponent from the CDU, Andreas Hollstein, got 25.0 percent. The former state chairman of the Greens Daniela Schneckenburger (Greens) comes to 23.0 percent. It is not yet clear who will meet Westfal. In a second election, the residents of Dortmund would be called back to the polls within 14 days. Dortmund is the largest city in Westphalia and the third largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia with about 588,000 inhabitants.
In North Rhine-Westphalia’s mayoral elections, an absolute majority is required to win the first vote. Otherwise, the decision between the two first-placed candidates will be taken in a second round on September 27. Then a simple majority is sufficient.
Higher turnout than in the European elections
Voter turnout in local elections was generally higher than last year’s European elections. Sometimes long lines formed in front of the polling stations. By 4 p.m., 44.9 percent of those entitled to vote had cast their vote, as a spokesman for the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of the Interior announced in Düsseldorf. In the European elections this was 42.7 percent.
In this year’s largest nationwide election, about 14 million citizens of the most populous federal state were called to re-elect city councils and district assemblies, as well as mayors, mayors and district administrators.
Voters with mouth and nose protection face a polling station in Cologne. Photo: dpa / Marius Becker
In Lünen, the city set up extra voting booths in the short term due to the great interest and long queues on Sundays. The city had reduced the number of voting booths by about two-thirds to 23, as many voting booths did not offer enough space during the corona pandemic.
In Oberhausen, a 76-year-old voter reported a waiting time of almost half an hour. In Düsseldorf it was only ten minutes, a 49-year-old reported. A DPA reporter waited almost 45 minutes at his polling station in Bochum.
Wahl is considered a vote test for Laschet
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.
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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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The local elections on Sunday took place under special Corona precautions. In all polling stations there was 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.
The high demand for postal votes also gives hope for an overall higher turnout, said a spokesman for the Association of Cities and Municipalities. The fact that the political mood in the country is more charged than in previous elections also contributes to this.
“Corona, climate protection, extremism – we are dealing with much more polarizing topics,” said the spokesman. This time, however, no further elections will take place in parallel as in 2014, when the European Parliament was elected at the same time. In addition, there is also the fear of contamination with the corona virus. (Teaspoon, AFP, dpa)