2012 North Rhine-Westphalia state election

The 2012 North Rhine-Westphalia state election was held on 13 May 2012 to elect the members of the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia. The incumbent minority government of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and The Greens led by Minister-President Hannelore Kraft was returned with a majority and continued in office. The seat count drastically increased from 181 in the previous election to 237.

2012 North Rhine-Westphalia state election

← 2010 13 May 2012 2017 →

All 237 seats of the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia
119 seats needed for a majority
Turnout7,793,995 (59.6%)
Increase 0.3%
  First party Second party Third party
  Hannelorekraft.jpg Röttgen-800.jpg Sylvia Löhrmann.jpg
Leader Hannelore Kraft Norbert Röttgen Sylvia Löhrmann
Party SPD CDU Green
Last election 67 seats, 34.5% 67 seats, 34.6% 23 seats, 12.1%
Seats won 99 67 29
Seat change Increase 32 Steady 0 Increase 6
Popular vote 3,049,983 2,050,321 884,298
Percentage 39.1% 26.3% 11.3%
Swing Increase 4.6% Decrease 8.3% Decrease 0.8%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
  Christian Lindner crop.jpg Joachim Paul.jpg K Schwabedissen.jpg
Leader Christian Lindner Joachim Paul Katharina Schwabedissen
Party FDP Pirates Left
Last election 13 seats, 6.7% 0 seats, 1.6% 11 seats, 5.6%
Seats won 22 20 0
Seat change Increase 9 Increase 20 Decrease 11
Popular vote 670,082 609,176 194,428
Percentage 8.6% 7.8% 2.5%
Swing Increase 1.9% Increase 6.2% Decrease 3.1%

Wahlkreise NRW 2012 1st vote majorities.svg
Results for the direct mandates

Minister-President before election

Hannelore Kraft
SPD

Elected Minister-President

Hannelore Kraft
SPD

BackgroundEdit

Germany's largest state has often been described as a bellwether in recent years.[1][2] The SPD governed continuously from 1966 until a CDU–FDP coalition took control in the 2005 state election. This defeat led Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to call a federal election, which he lost.

In the 2010 state election, the CDU held a 0.1% lead over the SPD, though both parties won 67 seats. The SPD and Greens emerged one seat short of a majority, while the CDU and FDP were 10 seats short. This was due to the new presence of The Left. After failed negotiations with The Left, the SPD and Greens formed a minority government with SPD leader Hannelore Kraft as Minister-President.[3] The state budget was rejected by the Landtag on 14 March 2012.[3][4] The government expected the FDP to abstain from the vote, allowing it to pass.[5] However, the CDU, FDP, and Left all voted against the budget, and it was rejected.[4] This led to the dissolution of the Landtag and a snap election.

Campaign and issuesEdit

The SPD and Greens sought to win a majority; polls predicted they would make gains. The CDU nominated federal Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen as their lead candidate. He was criticised for refusing to state whether, if the CDU lost the election, he would continue to lead the state party or return to federal politics. Opinion polls showed that voters preferred Kraft as Minister-President by a wide margin. The CDU made tackling the state's €230 billion debt a key issue; at one point they used a giant inflatable "debt mountain" as a prop.[6]

The FDP had fallen out of six state elections since joining the federal government in 2009, but had managed to retain their seats with 8.2% of the vote in the Schleswig-Holstein state election a week before the North Rhine-Westphalia election.

The Pirate Party ran on a loose platform of Internet freedom and grassroots democracy.

PartiesEdit

The table below lists parties represented in the previous Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Name Ideology Leader(s) 2010 result
Votes (%) Seats
CDU Christian Democratic Union of Germany
Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands
Christian democracy Norbert Röttgen 34.6%
67 / 181
SPD Social Democratic Party of Germany
Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands
Social democracy Hannelore Kraft 34.5%
67 / 181
Grüne Alliance 90/The Greens
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen
Green politics Sylvia Löhrmann 12.1%
23 / 181
FDP Free Democratic Party
Freie Demokratische Partei
Classical liberalism Christian Lindner 6.7%
13 / 181
Linke The Left
Die Linke
Democratic socialism Katharina Schwabedissen 5.6%
11 / 181

Opinion pollingEdit

Party pollingEdit

Polling firm Fieldwork date Sample
size
CDU SPD Grüne FDP Linke Piraten Others Lead
2012 state election 13 May 2012 26.3 39.1 11.3 8.6 2.5 7.8 4.3 12.8
INFO GmbH 3–5 May 2012 1,007 33 38 11 5 4 8 1 5
YouGov 27 Apr–7 May 2012 1,063 30 37 12 6 3.5 8.5 3 7
YouGov 24 Apr–4 May 2012 1,053 31 37 11 5 4 9 3 6
Forschungsgruppe Wahlen 30 Apr–3 May 2012 1,082 31 38 11 6 3 8 3 7
Infratest dimap 1–3 May 2012 1,003 30 38.5 11 6 4 7.5 3 8.5
YouGov 20–29 Apr 2012 1,038 31 36 11 5 4 10 3 5
Forsa 23–27 Apr 2012 1,008 32 37 10 5 3 10 3 5
Emnid 23–24 Apr 2012 1,001 32 38 10 5 4 9 ? 6
Infratest dimap 17–19 Apr 2012 1,001 31 39 11 4 3 9 3 8
Forschungsgruppe Wahlen 17–19 Apr 2012 1,045 34 37 11 4 3 8 3 3
YouGov 5–16 Apr 2012 1,064 32 36 13 4 4 8 3 4
INFO GmbH 4–7 Apr 2012 1,005 29 40 10 3 3 11 3 11
Infratest dimap 22–24 Mar 2012 1,001 32 40 12 4 3 5 4 8
Forsa 15–17 Mar 2012 1,003 33 39 11 4 4 6 3 6
Forschungsgruppe Wahlen 14–15 Mar 2012 1,073 34 37 13 2 4 6 4 3
Infratest dimap 14 Mar 2012 1,002 34 38 14 2 4 5 3 4
14 Mar 2012 State budget is rejected by the Landtag; snap election is called
YouGov 2–12 Mar 2012 1,065 33 33 17 2 5 7 3 Tie
Infratest dimap 22–23 Feb 2012 1,004 35 35 17 2 3 5 3 Tie
YouGov 27 Jan–6 Feb 2012 1,018 31 33 15 3 6 7 5 2
YouGov 6–16 Jan 2012 1,039 31 33 17 3 5 8 3 2
YouGov 14–21 Dec 2011 1,005 31 34 15 4 6 7 3 3
YouGov 2–12 Dec 2011 1,026 31 34 15 4 6 7 3 3
YouGov 28 Oct–7 Nov 2011 1,042 30 31 18 3 5 9 4 1
Infratest dimap 11–13 Oct 2011 1,000 31 35 16 3 4 7 4 4
YouGov October 2011 1,000 30 32 17 4 5 8 4 2
YouGov 8–15 Sep 2011 982 33 33 17 6 5 6 Tie
Emnid 29 Jul–4 Aug 2011 1,063 32 34 20 5 5 4 2
Forsa 1–7 Jul 2011 1,004 32 33 21 3 4 7 1
Infratest dimap 29–31 Mar 2011 1,000 34 30 24 4 4 2 2 4
Emnid 4–10 Mar 2011 1,000 35 35 14 5 5 6 Tie
Forsa 18–28 Jan 2011 1,008 35 34 17 4 4 6 1
Emnid 19–25 Jan 2011 635 36 36 15 4 4 5 Tie
YouGov 20–24 Jan 2011 1,029 24.7 30.6 14.1 5.5 8.6 1.3 15.2 5.9
Infratest dimap 16–18 Dec 2010 1,000 32 36 18 4 5 5 4
Forsa 11–15 Oct 2010 1,002 31 35 19 3 5 7 4
Infratest dimap 6–8 Jul 2010 1,001 32 36 17 5 6 4 4
Emnid 25 Jun 2010 ? 35 36 12 6 7 4 1
Emnid 17–26 May 2010 1,001 34 35 12 6 7 6 1
2010 state election 9 May 2010 34.6 34.5 12.1 6.7 5.6 1.6 4.9 0.1

Seat forecastEdit

Analysts on election.de forecast the likely results of the 128 direct mandates. These seats traditionally have been held by either the CDU or SPD, with minor parties standing little chance of winning any.

Polling firm Fieldwork date CDU SPD Lead
2012 state election 13 May 2012 29 99 70
election.de 12 May 2012 39 89 50
election.de 5 May 2012 38 90 52
election.de 28 Apr 2012 41 87 46
election.de 21 Apr 2012 54 74 20
election.de 14 Apr 2012 39 89 50
election.de 7 Apr 2012 46 82 36
2010 state election 9 May 2010 67 61 8

Minister-President pollingEdit

Polling firm Fieldwork date     Lead
Hannelore Kraft
SPD
Norbert Röttgen
CDU
INFO GmbH 11 May 2012 53 22 31
YouGov 7 May 2012 46 19 27
Forschungsgruppe Wahlen 4 May 2012 63 27 36
Infratest dimap 3 May 2012 58 26 32
Forsa 2 May 2012 56 25 31
Infratest dimap 22 Apr 2012 58 30 28
Forschungsgruppe Wahlen 20 Apr 2012 55 32 23
INFO GmbH 14 Apr 2012 49 21 28
Infratest dimap 25 Mar 2012 57 28 29
Forsa 21 Mar 2012 56 26 30
Forschungsgruppe Wahlen 15 Mar 2012 54 30 24
Infratest dimap 14 Mar 2012 57 26 31
YouGov 14 Mar 2012 42 21 21
Infratest dimap 26 Feb 2012 51 29 22
YouGov 19 Jan 2012 36 17 19

Election resultEdit

There was a major swing from the CDU to the SPD and to the Pirates, who entered their fourth state parliament in a row. The Greens stayed essentially level, while the FDP bucked the national trend, achieving a 2 point swing in their favour. This was attributed to the popular leadership of Christian Lindner.[7] Lindner was elected FDP federal leader one year later, after their historic defeat in the 2013 German federal election. The Left lost over half their voteshare and lost their seats after just two years in the Landtag.

The SPD won a landslide in the direct mandates, winning 99 seats to the CDU's 29. This led to a large number of overhang seats for the SPD and leveling seats for other parties, increasing the size of the Landtag from 181 to 237 seats.

State CDU leader Norbert Röttgen resigned, but refused to become leader of the opposition in the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia, instead continuing to serve as Minister for the Environment. Because of that, in what was considered unceremonious and highly unusual move (ministers are normally given the courtesy of resigning by themselves even after scandals), Chancellor Merkel fired him under Article 64 of the German Basic Law three days after the election.

Summary of the 13 May 2012 election results for the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia
 
Party Votes % +/- Seats +/- Seats %
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 3,049,983 39.1  4.6 99  32 41.8
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 2,050,321 26.3  8.3 67  0 28.3
Alliance 90/The Greens (Grüne) 884,298 11.3  0.8 29  6 12.2
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 670,082 8.6  1.9 22  9 9.3
Pirate Party Germany (Piraten) 609,176 7.8  6.2 20  20 8.4
The Left (Linke) 194,428 2.5  3.1 0  11 0
Pro NRW 118,326 1.5  0.1 0 ±0 0
Others 217,381 2.8 0 ±0 0
Total 7,793,995 100.0 237  56
Voter turnout 59.6  0.3
Popular Vote
SPD
39.13%
CDU
26.31%
B'90/GRÜNE
11.35%
FDP
8.60%
PIRATEN
7.82%
DIE LINKE
2.49%
Other
4.31%
Landtag seats
SPD
41.77%
CDU
28.27%
B'90/GRÜNE
12.24%
FDP
9.28%
PIRATEN
8.44%

SourcesEdit

  1. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/world/merkels-austerity-push-rejected-in-bellwether-state-20120514-1ym1f.html
  2. ^ "EU leaders set for showdown on fate of euro as crisis deepens". 14 May 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Biggest German state heads for early election". The Local. 14 March 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  4. ^ a b von Hellfeld, Matthias (15 March 2012). "Budget bungle forces snap state election". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  5. ^ "North Rhine-Westphalia Faces Snap Election". Spiegel Online. 14 March 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Angela Merkel prepares for an austerity backlash as key state goes to". 11 May 2012.
  7. ^ Kulish, Nicholas (13 May 2012). "In Rebuke to Merkel's Party, Social Democrats Win German Vote". The New York Times.