Surprise NRW Vote Puts Merkel Back in Pole Position
May 15, 2017
By FTI Consulting
Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) won the third state election in a row before national elections in September, and this one turned out a real sensation: They won Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the traditional stronghold of the Social Democrats (SPD). NRW is also home to Martin Schulz, who had given the SPD so much hope when first appointed as party leader and chancellor candidate back in January. And what was deemed to be a safe victory only some weeks ago turned out to be a disaster for SPD, landing the worst result in history in NRW.
Merkel, however, has done it again: By quietly and patiently supporting CDU’s rather liberal candidate Armin Laschet – for a long time far behind in the polls and seen by some in his own party as too tame – she has once again proven her political astuteness and sense for timing. This astounding result puts her back in pole position for the elections in September with only a few weeks of parliamentary debates left. She has said she would present her election program only in July, just after the G20 summit in Hamburg, and can do so without any pressure now. Until then, Martin Schulz and his team will have to go back to the drawing board and come up with something pretty powerful to stop what at the moment seems a home run for Merkel.
Meanwhile, the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), who went through a renewal process after heavy losses in the last federal elections, returned to the scene with their best result in NRW ever. They are even a potential, and possibly preferred, government coalition partner for CDU here. Otherwise, a grand coalition of CDU and SPD is the most likely outcome. The Greens (Die Grünen) failed in convincing and have pretty much ruled out joining a coalition.
Preliminary final result: CDU 33%, SPD 31.2%, FDP 12.6%, AfD 7.4%, Greens 6.4%, Linke (Left) 4.9% (not in parliament), others 4.5%
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting LLP, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals, members or employees.
Ms. Ledosquet joined FTI Consulting’s London office in 2000 and advised clients from various sectors in strategic communications, initially focussed on financial market communication and international assignments. After moving back to Germany in 2005, she supported clients in corporate and change communication. Since 2010, Ms. Ledosquet co-heads FTI Consulting’s Berlin based public affairs practice covering predominantly energy, finance and consumer protection policy. Prior to FTI Consulting, she was international communications manager at British Airways plc.