There are exactly two election winners in North Rhine-Westphalia - the CDU and the Greens. If the SPD still wants to negotiate a traffic light coalition, that would turn the election results upside down. Kevin Kühnert doesn't seem to care.
Anyone who thought that the SPD would have to mourn after the election result did not count on General Secretary Kevin Kühnert. "We are not unhappy with the result," he said. Black and yellow had been voted out and the result was "in principle" as expected. There are now several ways to form a government: Black-Green or an SPD-led alliance. By which he meant red-green, which, given the current state of affairs, would depend on the help of the FDP. Red-Green, said Kühnert, was ultimately the preferred coalition of the people in North Rhine-Westphalia, as polls had shown.
It almost sounded as if the SPD had won the election. But that is by no means the case. Not only is it seven to eight percentage points behind the CDU, it also achieved the worst result in its history in North Rhine-Westphalia - its former stronghold. Also because the party did not manage to mobilize its core voters. The turnout was surprisingly low, especially where the SPD is traditionally strong - in the large cities of the Ruhr area. If you couldn't convince your own followers, you shouldn't lean too far out of the window with claims.
It may be that many in NRW would have liked to see red-green. However, this is not a valid argument for a traffic light. Polls are not election results. It wasn't enough for red-green. Point. And surveys also show that people in the country prefer black and green to traffic lights. But Kühnert hides that.
Common sense says that Wüst should now remain prime minister. Anyone who gets 36 percent can formulate this claim against a runner-up. If it had been as close as many polls suggested, if the CDU had been at 30 percent and the SPD at 28 - yes, one could have said that it was almost a tie. Then it would have been a question of who could make the Greens the better offer. But at such a distance the train has left.
Kühnert said that Wüst and the CDU had run a second vote campaign at the expense of the FDP - and that's why they got so many votes. Even if that may be true - so what? What counts is where the voters made their cross at the end. And the voting decision of the FDP sympathizers is conclusive. One can assume that they assumed that it was no longer enough for black and yellow. So they voted for a strong CDU to prevent red-green. The way Kühnert puts it, it seems as if the CDU somehow cheated the votes. These are rhetorical tricks that show a lack of respect for the decisions of these voters.
In addition, the memory of last autumn is still too fresh to appear so boldly. After the federal election, many in the SPD got upset when the defeated candidate for chancellor, Armin Laschet, prepared to hold exploratory talks. What applied to the CDU back then shouldn't apply to the SPD now? That smells very much like double standards, even if, according to the SPD, it should have been a completely different situation.
Of course, parliaments are about organizing majorities. Majority is majority, even if the largest party is then left out. But to say in this case: Black-Yellow has been voted out and to derive a government mandate for Red-Yellow plus Greens from that simply doesn't make sense. Then the two parties that have lost the most support would be in government: SPD and FDP. To what extent is this supposed to reflect the will of the voters? Who is supposed to understand that? Anyone who fails to recognize this need not be surprised next time that the turnout is still low.
The traffic light is a government option - but not the first. FDP top candidate Joachim Stamp understood that. "You don't think that we are speculating about participating in the government given this result," he said on WDR on the evening of the election. "It's other people's turn now."