The fragmentation of the party system is coming to an end

Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Friedrich Merz (CDU)

The chancellor and the leader of the opposition can also interpret the NRW election positively.

(Photo: Imago (2))

The state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia were considered a crucial test of mood for both Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and his traffic lights and CDU leader Friedrich Merz. At the end of the election day, neither of the two emerged as the happy winner of the small federal election.

A change of government is within the realm of possibility for the SPD. But measured by the signs, the historically worst result in NRW is a disappointment: there was neither a Scholz effect nor was the SPD able to benefit from the fact that CDU Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst did not have an office bonus.

And yet the election result for Merz is no reason to celebrate. Although SPD Chancellor Scholz has been criticized, although Wüst’s SPD challenger Thomas Kutschaty was not an extremely strong opponent, the CDU could lose power on the Rhine.

Should this happen, it will be uncomfortable for Merz. If, on the other hand, there were black and green in NRW, it would be a coup for Wüst – and also for Merz.

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The clear loser is the FDP. In 2017, the Liberals made the NRW elections a preliminary vote on returning to the Bundestag. It was extremely likely that the result from that time would not be repeated. But it is a bitter disappointment that the Liberals, as the governing party, even have to worry about being able to re-enter the state parliament.

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The big election winner, on the other hand, is the Greens. The eco-party triples its result. It benefits in the federal states from the strong government performance in Berlin and is blossoming into the third people’s party.

And the NRW election shows one more thing: the fragmentation of the party system is coming to an end. The left is almost dead, and after the AfD was kicked out in Schleswig-Holstein, it just barely got into the state parliament in North Rhine-Westphalia. Despite some disappointments, the NRW election is one thing: a victory for democracy.

More: Kühnert for SPD soundings in North Rhine-Westphalia – Lauterbach considers this to be “measured and inappropriate”

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