The election is perceived as a trial run for the federal election later in the year.
Why is the NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia) election perceived as a test run?
State elections are a barometer for the federal elections. Depending on the state, voters take to the polls every four or five years. Three state elections are scheduled for 2017: voting will take place in Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia. The most populous German state with its rural and urban regions, its 18 million residents and 13.2 million eligible voters is viewed as a particularly relevant indicator for the outcome of the general parliamentary election. In addition, NRW is also the state with the largest Muslim population in Germany.
According to opinion polls, change is imminent. Currently, SPD (Social Democrats Party led by Chairman Martin Schulz) and CDU (Christian Democrat Party) led by Angela Merkel) are running neck and neck at around 31 percent each. Compared to 2012, this is a massive loss for the SPD; for the CDU, by contrast, this means an increase of 4.5 percentage points.
The Christian Democrat Party (Angela Merkel) is centre right and the Social Democrat Party (Martin Schultz)s are centre left.