Test for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's party in important state election

BerlinUpdated: May 15, 2022, 06:17 PM IST
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File photo: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.  Photograph:(Reuters)

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Scholz's SPD has dominated the state for most of the past half-century. But has suffered setbacks in last federal election

Election in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany's most populous state is posing an test for Chancellor Olaf Scholz's SPD party just five months after he entered office.

"North Rhine-Westphalia always sends an important signal for federal politics," said Nico Siegel, the executive director of pollster Infratest dimap.

Scholz's SPD has dominated the state for most of the past half-century. The state accounts for fifth of Germany's total population and is home to the rust-belt Ruhr region.

However, SPD lost to former German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party CDU in federal elections recently.

Ahead of Sunday's vote, the two parties were very close in the polls, with the CDU having a slight lead at 32% versus 28% for the SPD in a survey published by INSA on Thursday.

"An election victory would radiate, in a positive sense, into discussions about the SPD's strength in the federal government and Olaf Scholz's popularity," Siegel said

The NRW election is also seen giving a boost to Germany's environmentalist Greens party, which could become kingmaker.

The CDU has governed the state in a coalition with business friendly FDP since 2017. But even with its slight lead over the SPD, it might not be able to secure a majority with just the FDP, which stood at 8% in the polls.

The Greens most recently polled around 16%, which means either party is likely to need the Greens to form a state government.

(With inputs from agencies)