On May 15, the 18th state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia will be elected. A total of 13.2 million eligible voters are called upon to cast their votes at the ballot box. In North Rhine-Westphalia, a new state parliament is elected every five years.

Hendrik Wüst (CDU) wants to defend his office, he has been Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia since October 27, 2021. Wüst succeeded Armin Laschet (CDU), who ran as a candidate for chancellor in the 2021 federal election. Before the federal election, Laschet had declared that he was going to Berlin “without a return ticket” – even if he didn’t become chancellor. In a secret ballot in October, 103 MPs voted for Wüst, with 90 votes against and three abstentions. He is the twelfth Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia and governs in a black-yellow coalition.

After the resignation of Armin Laschet (CDU), Hendrik Wüst temporarily took over the business as Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia. At the state party conference in October last year, Wüst was elected chairman of the North Rhine-Westphalia CDU and the top candidate for the state elections. Can the previous transport minister remain the country’s most important politician beyond May 2022?

State party leader Thomas Kutschaty is entering the race as a competitor from the SPD. And he definitely counts on chances. In the case of the Greens, state chairwoman Mona Neubaur will lead the party as the top candidate in the election. The Liberals have nominated the incumbent Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Family Affairs, Joachim Stamp, as the top candidate. The North Rhine-Westphalian AfD is moving into the state elections with Markus Wagner as the top candidate.

Here we present the top candidates:

CDU: 30 percent

SPD: 28 percent

Greens: 18 percent

FDP: 7 percent

AfD: 7 percent

Left: 3 percent

Other: 7 percent

Eligible to vote are German citizens who have reached the age of 18 on the day of the election, who have lived in North Rhine-Westphalia for at least the 16 day before the election or who are otherwise habitually resident and are not disqualified from voting.

In the election to the North Rhine-Westphalian state parliament, each eligible voter has two votes. With the first vote, the direct candidate from the respective constituency is elected. The state list of a party is supported with the second vote. The country is divided into 128 constituencies.

The North Rhine-Westphalian state parliament has at least 181 members. Of these, 128 are elected by first vote as direct candidates from the constituencies, the so-called direct mandates. The candidate with the most first votes wins the constituency. Accordingly, a relative majority is sufficient to move directly into the state parliament.

At least 53 MPs will also receive seats in parliament via the state lists of the parties. However, only candidates whose party has received more than five percent of the valid votes can enter the state parliament via the state lists.

In the 2017 state elections, the CDU was the strongest party, just ahead of the SPD, which had to accept major losses under the then Prime Minister Hannelore Kraft. The FDP gained votes and became the third strongest party, followed at some distance by the AfD, which took office for the first time. The Greens were the second big loser of the election alongside the SPD. The left missed entering the state parliament by a hair’s breadth with 4.9 percent.

The red-green coalition was voted out and lost its parliamentary majority. In the state parliament, there was a narrow majority of one seat for a black-yellow alliance. On June 27, 2017, Armin Laschet was elected Prime Minister.

On October 27, 2021, Hendrik Wüst was elected Prime Minister to succeed Laschet. The black-yellow coalition continued.

SPD: 31.2 percent

CDU: 33 percent

Greens: 6.4 percent

FDP: 12.6 percent

AfD: 7.4 percent

Left: 4.9 percent

Other: 3.5 percent