The German conservatives have won this Sunday in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia their second consecutive regional elections in a week in Germany with a clear and indisputable result and an appreciable advantage over the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens. The exit polls after the closing of the polling stations at 6:00 p.m. local time indicate that the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) will obtain 35%, two points more than five years ago, while the SPD registers the worst result of its history by falling below the 30% barrier for the first time and obtaining only 27.5% of the vote in the region that for decades was considered the heart of German social democracy. The clear winners of the day have been Los Verdes, who tripled their percentage of votes compared to the 2017 elections to add 18.5%.
After suffering appreciable losses, the Liberal Party (FDP) is up in the air with 5%, the minimum to obtain parliamentary representation and which will be seen on a tightrope until the end of the scrutiny. However, the ultra-nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) will enter the regional chamber of Düsseldorf with certainty, although its forces are depleted and with only 6% of the vote. The legislative elections in North Rhine-Westphalia are considered in this country a reduced version of the general ones due to the characteristics of that State, with some 18 million inhabitants, the most populous in Germany. The result offered by the polls is very similar to that of the latest polls at the national level, in which the conservative opposition exceeds the Social Democrats of the federal chancellor, Olaf Scholz, in voting intention.
The winner of the elections is the current prime minister in the Rhine region, the Christian Democrat Hendrik Wüst, in office since last October, after succeeding Armin Laschet, the unsuccessful conservative candidate for the German general elections last September. The electoral success is also a boost for the president of the CDU, the veteran Friedrich Merz, responsible for revitalizing the formation. Wüst's victory, however, poses a threat to Merz's political ambitions. Like Günther Daniel, the young conservative who won the elections in the state of Schleswig-Holstein last week, Wüst is one of the regional barons whose names are already being considered to compete for power in Berlin within a little more than three years.
For Olaf Scholz and the Social Democrats, the result in North Rhine-Westphalia is a disaster, plunged as they are into a pothole in popularity due to the indecisive policy of the Federal Chancellor in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and his reluctance to supply weapons heavy to the invaded country. The SPD fears that this and last Sunday's defeats will lead to a run of negative trends. The dream of the Social Democrats of repeating in Düsseldorf the tripartite coalition with Greens and Liberals that governs in Berlin will hardly be fulfilled, while the Conservatives now have the opportunity to experiment and seek an alliance with the environmentalists in the Rhinelands.