Armin Laschet takes his time. “I’m glad it’s a good Sunday,” said the North Rhine-Westphalian CDU leader when he greeted the small group of party friends at party headquarters on the Düsseldorf waterway an hour and a half after the end of the local elections.
In fact, the elections had only been over half an hour ago. In many cities, the queues for the polling stations were so long that the polling station was extended: those who queued at the door until 6 p.m. were allowed in. In Bochum the democratic strike time lasted more than an hour.
So the prime minister has every reason to first thank the voters for voting in record numbers despite the Corona complications, and then thank the election officials for their particularly complicated work.
But then he finally gets to the two sentences that are important to him. “This is the biggest choice we will have in Germany in 2020,” says Laschet. “Today we can say: the CDU has won these elections.”
FDP boss Lindner congratulates him
Even Christian Lindner tweeted you “could only congratulate”. For his own troops, the FDP chief sparingly stated that with a forecast of just under five percent, they were about “where they were.”
Now the CDU result is actually ominously close to the historic low of 35.6 percent in 1952. But just a little more than a percentage point minus the last local elections in 2014 is bearable.
In symbolically important cities such as the capital Düsseldorf or Dortmund, which the SPD still calls their “heart chamber”, CDU candidates go to the second election of the mayor. And above all: in comparison with the other, once great people’s party on the Rhine and Ruhr, the Christian Democrats are in a brilliant position.
SPD leader Esken: The result has nothing to do with the candidate for chancellor
SPD abutment Sebastian Hartmann quickly tries to talk nicely with the less than 25 percent (“better than expected”). But Federal Chairman Saskia Esken, who isn’t known for her overly diplomatic vocabulary anyway, isn’t ignoring the mess. “That is of course a disappointing result,” she says on ZDF. “We have not been able to make it clear that it makes a difference where Social Democrats rule.”
Esken says this really has nothing to do with the appeal of the chancellor candidate, after all: it’s a matter of local elections, not a vote on Treasury Secretary Olaf Scholz.
The winners of the evening are the Greens
With the difference between regional and national, they naturally find it less picky about the big winner of the evening. From the perspective of the Greens, the “historically best result” (group chairman Arnd Klocke) is not only a reward for good work on the ground, but also a general confirmation of the course.
When citizens were asked about the most pressing issues before the elections, classic green issues such as a new transport policy, as well as climate and environmental issues were quite high in the larger cities.
A relaxed atmosphere at the Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen election party in Cologne: you have become the strongest force in the cathedral city Photo: imago images / Eduard Bopp
Accordingly, the eco party cleans up on Sunday, especially in the cities. In the Council of Cologne it could be enough for the first place. In the Dortmund mayoral election, the green candidate Daniela Schneckenburger only took third place. But for her party, says Schneckenburger, election night is still great.
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CDU candidate Andreas Hollstein stopped at Greens headquarters and congratulated: The Greens had won the election, while the CDU and the SPD had left their feathers, the Christian Democrat admitted.
The ad peeped from behind the humility. Hollstein needs the Greens if he wants to win the deciding vote against SPD favorite Thomas Westphal within two weeks. Support from at least parts of the Green voters is not unlikely. Hollstein belongs to the liberal wing of his party; As mayor of Altena, he was the target of a knife attack because of his overt refugee policy.
Laschet: “Away from measure and center” in the pandemic was correct
For Laschet the exit in the SPD “heart chamber” is then no longer so important. This is his night. He shines like the proverbial honey cake horse. The man who wants to become CDU boss and Angela Merkel’s successor in the chancellery has reached his milestone. And now he’s doing everything he can to make sure no one overlooks it.
Many did not expect CDU first place “on this scale” in a country ruled by the SPD for 50 years, says Laschet; it shows how deeply anchored the CDU is now on the Rhine and the Ruhr area. I mean, not only can I win, I can keep victories.
In addition, Laschet continues, there is also recognition in the election results for his dealings with Corona. His “path of measure and in the midst of the pandemic”, which has been correct thus far, still is and will continue to be in the future. That means: the Bavarian or whoever teases as he likes – it depends on the voters.