Minority left government in NRW?

In North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s largest state, it looks like the next government will be a SPD-Green minority administration. The incumbent CDU-FDP coalition failed to retain its majority in recent elections, and the outgoing premier, Juergen Ruettgers, announced on Saturday that he would not stand for re-election as premier in the new assembly.

The SPD and Greens are two seats short of a majority, and will rely on the backing or abstention of the Left Party to sustain their cabinet.

Other outcomes were possible, and maybe even seemed more likely following the election: a CDU-SPD grand coalition, or a CDU-FDP-Green coalition, for example. But negotiations for such alternatives led nowhere.

Questions I hope someone will know the answer to:

1. How common are minority cabinets in German states?

2. Is this the first time outside the former GDR that a government has needed at least tacit backing from the Left?

Because states’ Bundesrat delegations are appointed by state governments, this will mean the federal coalition of the CDU/CSU and FDP will lose its majority in the second chamber.

5 thoughts on “Minority left government in NRW?

  1. This is where party switching and pork have a useful function. In any other place but Germany, a government in this situation should be able to come up with sufficient bribes to get two members to cross the floor.

    How easy is it to call an election at the state level in Germany? Another solution is the Canadian approach in making sure that the main opposition party is so unpopular and weak financially that they only move to bring down the government when they are guaranteed to fail.

  2. 1. How common are minority cabinets in German states?

    This NRW-situation is the first time in the FRG; all previous minority gov’ts had held a majority in parliament till a political crisis occured.

    2. Is this the first time outside the former GDR that a government has needed at least tacit backing from the Left?

    Yes. While the Left has an establishment and power in the former GDR-states, the Western LEFT-party has not yet. But the new coalition tries to woo the conservatives in order to free themselves from leftist blackmailing.

  3. In Berlin there has been an SPD-Greens-minority government depending support by PDS (now: The LEFT) in 2001. After the SPD left the Grand Coalition over a banking scandal SPD, Greens and PDS elected Klaus Wowereit (SPD) as head of goverment. But this government was not intended to last for the remaining two years of the 4-year-term.

    Early elections resulted in an SPD-PDS majority government (after coalition talks for a SPD-Greens-FDP goverment failed). In 2006 SPD and PDS managed to gain a norrow majority of seats on just 44 % of the votes (more than 13 % of the votes where cast for small parties who gained less than 5 % each).

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