German Press Review: No Winner in NRW | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 27.09.2004
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German Press Review: No Winner in NRW

The results of the local elections in Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia dominated the editorial columns in Mondays German papers.

The Social Democrats – the federal governing party – appear to have slowed their recent slide at the ballot box on state and local levels. It was the conservative Christian Democrats, CDU who suffered the biggest losses in the local elections in the state of North Rhine Westphalia. They retained power but lost nearly seven points. The CDU may have been the biggest loser, but the Stuttgarter Nachrichten said the Social Democrats, SPD don’t really have anything to celebrate either, their result is a historic low.

The Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger in Cologne thought it is amazing that the Christian Democrats were able to hold on to power at all. The paper noted that the cities in Germany’s most populous state were historically a strong hold of the Social Democrats.

The rule for being a successful opposition party is you attack the government’s domestic policies but you play along with its foreign policy said the Süddeutsche Zeitung. However, it added, the CDU has done the exact opposite which has harmed the party all the way down to the municipal level. They missed their chance to portray themselves to millions of people as an alternative government concluded the daily.

The people continue to walk away from the mainstream parties and over to the smaller ones which were the winners of the day wrote the tageszeitung. The paper observed that over the last month, the SPD and the CDU have lost hundreds of thousands of supporters in elections across the country. People have either abstained or cast their votes in favor of a fringe party in protest. Could it be, the paper asked, that the main parties haven’t properly explained to the people why social cutbacks are needed, or that the opposition hasn’t offered an alternative?

The Frankfurter Allgemeine paper looked ahead to what the results of Sunday’s elections mean for North Rhine Westphalia’s state election in May next year. Answering its own question, nothing. Looking back, the paper recalled that shortly after the CDU won the local elections in 1999, support for it plummeted just a week later and it didn’t win the state election in 2000. The daily predicted that in eight months the unemployment statistics are going to look a lot better thanks to the Chancellor Schröder’s reforms, so the SPD has not lost yet.