Wednesday

28th Feb 2024

Schulz fails to beat Merkel in German home state

  • Former EU parliament leader, Martin Schulz, failed to win his home state (Photo: PES Communications)

Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right CDU party won the elections in Germany's largest state on Sunday (14 May), serving as another blow to the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) ahead of the federal elections in September.

CDU received 33 percent of the votes in North Rhine-Westphalia, the western state that has the cities of Bonn, Cologne, Dortmund, and Duesseldorf. The christian-democrats gained 6.7 percentage points - compared to the last state elections.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The social-democrats lost 7.9 percentage points, and ended up in second place with 31.2 percent of the vote.

“This is a difficult day, also for me personally,” said SPD leader Martin Schulz, known in Brussels as the former president of the European Parliament.

North Rhine-Westphalia is Schulz's home state, and he would have hoped to secure it. The social-democrats have also been in power there for 46 of the last 51 years.

The vote in North Rhine-Westphalia was the last of three state elections ahead of the federal parliamentary elections on 24 September.

All three were regarded as a measurement of whether Schulz, who became SPD party leader in January, could change the fortune of his party.

For a while, the social-democrats enjoyed what has been dubbed the "Schulz effect" - skyrocketing in the polls.

However, Merkel's CDU came out on top in all three state elections, showing that the this effect was only virtual.

At Sunday's election, voters ousted the coalition between the SPD and the Greens, with the latter losing almost half of its previously-held support: from 11.3 percent down to 6.4 percent.

The liberal FDP party grew by 4 percentage points, to 12.6 percent, and is perceived by commentators as the most likely coalition candidate for the CDU in North Rhine-Westphalia.

But CDU's Armin Laschet, who will likely become the new state premier, said on Monday that he would have discussions not only with the FDP, but also with the SPD and the Greens.

He noted that the citizens of Germany's biggest state "wanted a government change", but that coalition talks do not need to be finished "during this morning".

Laschet excluded working together with Alternative for Germany (AfD) - a far right, anti-immigration, anti-EU party - which received 7.4 percent of the vote, entering the parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia for the first time.

Schulz opposes '2 percent' Nato goal

The centre-left candidate for the most powerful position in Europe said, if elected, the German government would not pursue the goal of having a “highly armed army in the middle of Europe”.

Martin Schulz, down but not out against Merkel

After the Social Democrats' crushing defeat in its party leader's home state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the odds seem stacked against them for the rapidly approaching federal election in September.

Investigation

Far-right MEPs least disciplined in following party line

In a fractious parliamentary vote, the level of party discipline often decides the fate of legislation. Party discipline among nationalists and far-right MEPs is the weakest, something potentially significant after the June elections. Data by Novaya Gazeta Europe and EUobserver.

Latest News

  1. Podcast: Hyperlocal meets supranational
  2. Von der Leyen appeals for 'new EU defence mindset'
  3. EU supply chain law fails, with 14 states failing to back it
  4. Joined-up EU defence procurement on the horizon?
  5. Macron on Western boots in Ukraine: What he really meant
  6. Amazon lobbyists banned from EU Parliament
  7. MEPs adopt new transparency rules for political ads
  8. EU nature restoration law approved after massive backlash

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us