Voters in Germany’s most populous state strengthened a center-left regional government which Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives sought to portray as irresponsibly spendthrift, and inflicted an embarrassingly heavy defeat Sunday on the German leader’s party, projections showed. The center-left Social Democrats and Greens — Germany’s main opposition parties — won combined support of about 51 percent in the election in North Rhine-Westphalia state, according to ARD television based on exit polls and early counting. That would be enough to give them a majority in the state legislature, which they narrowly missed in the last regional election two years ago.
Germany: Most populous state to hold new elections as government stumbles over budget | The Washington Post
Germany’s most populous state will hold early elections after its minority government narrowly failed to get a budget passed Wednesday — a prospect that could boost the country’s center-left opposition. All 181 members of the state legislature in North Rhine-Westphalia voted to dissolve it. That means a new regional election must be held within 60 days, although no date was immediately set. North Rhine-Westphalia, a western region of some 18 million people that includes Cologne and the Ruhr industrial region, is governed by the center-left Social Democrats and Greens. The vote Wednesday came hours after a budget proposal from the state government fell one vote short of a majority. Center-right opponents have accused it of poor financial management and demanded more belt-tightening.