May 16, 2022 00:58 GMT
Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democratic Party (SPD) lost to the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the election to the regional legislature of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state.
- This is the SPD's second electoral defeat in as many weeks after the Schleswig-Holstein May 8 poll and deals a blow to Scholz, who travelled to the state multiple times during the campaign period.
- Scholz's party won just shy of 27% of the vote, its worst-ever result in North Rhine-Westphalia, with the CDU improving their performance to nearly 36%.
- The federal government's handling of the Russia-Ukraine crisis has been widely cited among the reasons for these unsatisfactory results, with Scholz accused of foot-dragging on Western initiatives to support Kyiv.
- The Greens almost tripled their vote share, which makes them a kingmaker, as a poor showing from the FDP rules out the reinstatement of a CDU-FDP administration.
- A CDU-Green administration is the most likely outcome but a replication of the federal "traffic lights" alliance (SPD+Greens+FDP) or a "Jamaica" coalition (CDU+Greens+FDP) are also possible scenarios.
- Whether or not the CDU will enter the next administration, the results bode ill for the SPD, as the sheer size of North Rhine-Westphalia makes the regional poll a bellwether for national sentiment.