North Rhine-Westphalia has voted, and fewer voters than ever have opted for the Social Democrats: According to the first figures, they remain just under 30 percent. The CDU, on the other hand, is clearly above it, it has left the SPD behind.

There were many reasons to vote out the party that governs together with the FDP: The last scandal was only a few weeks ago, the environment minister resigned because she was in Mallorca during the flood disaster last year; When it came to Corona management, the state government sometimes seemed to be straying astray, and its housing and transport policy also causes little enthusiasm among many people. The reasons for not being voted out of office obviously lie outside the country: in the federal government, the CDU, as the opposition party, is currently making far fewer mistakes than the governing SPD.

As is well known, NRW is the most populous state in the republic, every sixth German citizen was called to vote there. That’s why Berlin pays particular attention when elections are held there. It also travels to be on the safe side during the election campaign, and so a large number of top federal political personnel have recently been cavorting in Cologne and Düsseldorf.

So is the election rightly called a “small federal election”, for example this year? The current federal government has only been in office for five months, after surprisingly silent negotiations as a traffic light, in between there is a war, an announced turning point, a few ministers who can be seen failing, and a chancellor who is too often silent and hesitant. Scholz has recently crashed in polls. The SPD nevertheless relied on him in the NRW election campaign.

The state elections in Schleswig-Holstein a week ago and their clear defeat there were not nice for the SPD, but it wasn’t NRW. NRW is SPD motherland. It was a drama in NRW when the party got just under 40 percent in the 2005 state elections for the first time since the 1950s. Today one would be happy with the results of that time.

The first numbers confirm what the polls predicted: it’s going to be tight. Who governs will ultimately result in coalition negotiations. The SPD cannot win the election; she can govern if the Greens let her. The Greens are the winners, they have more than tripled their result since the last election. If they don’t get involved with Red-Green, things will look very bad for the Social Democrats. Then black-green (or black-yellow-green) has the chance to prove that it can be the better progressive government. Not only in North Rhine-Westphalia.