In North Rhine-Westphalia, 13 million people have a choice - CDU or SPD, libertine or Kuchaty? The two top candidates have already cast their votes. And voter turnout so far is higher than it was five years ago.
Shortly before the polling stations closed, there were signs of a slightly lower turnout in the state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia than in 2017. By 4 p.m. it was 53.35 percent on average in eight selected districts and urban districts, said state returning officer Wolfgang Schellen. He rated that as "moderate turnout". In the 2017 state election, it was around 59 percent at that point. The random survey was based on data from the districts of Düren and Gütersloh, the Rhine district of Neuss and the independent cities of Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Essen, Cologne and Mülheim an der Ruhr. At the end of election day in 2017, a turnout of 65.2 percent was recorded. In the state elections in NRW in 2022, 128 constituencies will vote. Around noon it had looked like a higher turnout.
The 13 million eligible voters can cast their votes until 6 p.m. The first forecast of the outcome of the election is expected shortly thereafter. A CDU triumph like two weeks ago in Schleswig-Holstein is not to be expected. According to polls, Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst's party has good prospects of becoming the strongest force. But whether she will ultimately lead a government is another matter. It is pretty certain that the previous black-yellow alliance is no longer enough. Apart from that, almost anything could be possible tonight: black-green, red-green, traffic lights or even a Jamaica coalition. The Greens and the FDP are keeping their options open. Nobody wants to form a coalition with the AfD, a black-red alliance is probably only the very last option.
Until 2017, a red-green coalition was in power in NRW. In several surveys, a tight race between the CDU and SPD has recently emerged. With around 30 to 32 percent, the CDU was just ahead of the SPD with 28 to 29 percent. In most surveys, the CDU has a lead of two to three percentage points over the SPD - a statement on the ranking of the two parties is not possible because of the statistical error rate. In addition, according to polls, many voters were still undecided about whom to vote for.
The Greens are in polls at 16 to 18 percent and could achieve their best state election result with their top candidate Mona Neubaur. The FDP with top candidate Joachim Stamp could only end up with 7 to 8 percent, the AfD with 6 to 8 percent. With around 3 percent, the left would again miss entering the state parliament.
For the federal parties and the federal traffic light coalition of the SPD, Greens and FDP, the vote in North Rhine-Westphalia is also a "small federal election" and an important mood test. The election is the third and penultimate state election this year, and Lower Saxony will follow in the fall. Last Sunday, the CDU with Prime Minister Daniel Günther clearly won the election in Schleswig-Holstein. Previously, the SPD with Anke Rehlinger had won the state election in Saarland. The fact that NRW has long since ceased to be the "homeland" of the SPD is shown by the fact that the CDU and SPD have alternated in government in recent years. In 2017, the CDU and FDP formed a coalition, until 2017 a red-green alliance was at the helm.