A defeat for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party is expected in regional elections in Germany’s most-densely populated state on Sunday.
Merkel’s Christian Democrat (CDU) candidate for North Rhine-Westphalia is Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen, who has lost support by saying he will not move to the state to be in opposition if he loses, but will stay in Berlin.
North Rhine-Westphalia is a big industrial state in Germany’s western Ruhr region and includes the cities of Düsseldorf and Cologne.
Most likely to win is Social Democrat (SPD) and regional head of government Hannelore Kraft.
However, she must overcome criticism of her spending. Her administration collapsed when she proposed a budget that overran by more than 3.5 million euros.
Her party would form a centre-left coalition with the Greens, however, the emergence of a raft of smaller political parties is drawing away support.
One such group is the Pirate Party, who already have seats in three regional governments, and are hoping to get the necessary five percent needed to become part of a fourth state administration