German Greens hope for early 2021 boost in municipal state elections
The Green Party is hoping to make huge gains in the upcoming municipal elections on 13 September in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany's most populous federal state, Tobias Zacher reports for public broadcaster WDR. "The Greens will make themselves heard at the elections of local mayors and city councils in several cities" and often end up leading local government coalitions, Zacher writes. Spurred on by their success at last year's European Parliament elections, where the party received more than 23 percent of the votes, the Greens hope to turn their constantly high rating in national polls into a success in NRW's municipalities. "We won't be able to just repeat our results of the 2019 European elections," the NRW Greens' co-leader Felix Banaszak warned, an assessment supported by local polls indicating that the party's lead in several cities has disappeared since last year. However, the party still hopes to achieve its best result ever in the federal state with some 18 million inhabitants, slightly more than the Netherlands.
Climate and energy issues have played a key role in coal state NRW in recent years, which is governed by state premier Armin Laschet of the conservative CDU in coalition with the pro-business party FDP. The heavily industrialised state has a long history of coal mining and is still home to several active lignite mines as well as the Hambach Forest, an ancient woodland threatened by a nearby mine that has become an iconic battleground for German and European climate activists in the last years. Laschet is in the race to become the CDU's new leader at a party convention in November. If successful, he stands a good chance of becoming his party's candidate for succeeding Angela Merkel as Chancellor.