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German election

North Rhine-Westphalia regional vote draws few voters

North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous federal state, has voted in regional elections. But did anybody care? DW's Gabriel Borrud spent the day trying to figure that out.

"Hell yeah, I care," a 54-year-old man voting in the North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) regional elections in Bonn, said while his kids were busy jumping around in a massive bouncy castle. "Why do you think I'm here?"

Okay, so why are you voting? "I don't want the refugees to take us over," he said.

He was serious. He was completely serious. And what political party would prevent the refugees from taking us over?

"I won't answer that," he said, invoking his right not to talk about politics. And then he quickly turned away, grabbed his kids and left the polling station.

'Heck with that!'

This is a crazy election. Looked at from the state of NRW's perspective, it may even be unprecedented.

According to the German press agency DPA, less than 50 percent of the people who live in NRW planned to vote on Sunday.

"Why should we vote?" Simone asked just outside the Bonn train station on Sunday morning.

"I … hate politicians," she said. "I hate them for real."

A man approached and interjected: "Now just wait, young lady. We have a chance every couple years to choose who has control over our city. Why shouldn't we take advantage of that?"

"Heck with that!" she responded.

The man left. Soon after, so did Simone.

Voter apathy means politician apathy

The funny thing about this election is that it's not just about voters not giving a hoot.

In many municipalities, it was even hard to get people to run for mayor. Like in Wiehl, a town just east of Cologne, where an online advertisement was needed before a mayoral candidate was found.

Havixbeck, Bönen, Geldern, Schwelm, and a host of other places in NRW also had a tough go attracting potential leaders.

How bad has it become if you have to ask people from afar to come and run your own town?

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