In North Rhine-Westphalia, around 13 million people are called on to vote in the state elections on Sunday – 6.7 million women and 6.3 million men. Among them are 785,900 first-time voters. Never before have there been so many eligible voters aged 60 and over in a state election in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The polling stations close at 6 p.m., which is when the first forecasts are made, and the first projections are expected around half an hour later.

There are 128 constituencies in total. The state election committee approved the state lists of 29 parties, six (AlphaHHP, APPD and Z-PARTEI, Bündnis C, BKP and DM) were rejected. In the last state election in 2017, voter turnout rose by 5.6 percentage points to 65.2 percent.

A black and yellow coalition of CDU and FDP has governed North Rhine-Westphalia for five years – initially under the leadership of Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU), who was replaced by the then Minister of Transport Hendrik Wüst (CDU) at the end of October 2021 because he failed after his failure chancellor candidacy for the Union moved to Berlin to the Bundestag. A red-green coalition with Prime Minister Hannelore Kraft (SPD) ruled for seven years until 2017. This time, the SPD is running with former Justice Minister Thomas Kutschaty as the top candidate.

The latest surveys from early and mid-May predict that the CDU will have a lead of 30 to 33 percent over the SPD (28 to 29 percent). They are followed by the Greens with 16 to 18 percent. The FDP is between 7 and 8 percent, the AfD between 6 and 8 percent, the left at 3 percent and the other parties between 6 and 7 percent.

On May 14, 2017, the CDU was the strongest party with 33.0 percent (up 6.7 percentage points compared to 2012), ahead of the SPD with 31.2 percent (down 7.9 percentage points). The FDP was the third strongest party with 12.6 percent (plus 4.0 percentage points), ahead of the AfD with 7.4 percent (appeared for the first time) and the Greens with 6.4 percent (minus 4.9 percentage points).

With 4.9 percent, the left narrowly missed the leap into the state parliament, the increase of 2.4 percentage points was not enough. The pirates lost 6.8 percentage points and, with 1.0 percent, fell well short of the five percent hurdle. All other parties together came to 3.5 percent (minus 0.9 percentage points).

This resulted in the following distribution of seats: CDU 72, SPD 69, FDP 28, Greens 14 and AfD 16. With a total of 199 seats, black and yellow had the narrowest imaginable absolute majority of 100 seats.