After the election in North Rhine-Westphalia, there is now a lot of talk about the government mandate of the voters. But does it even exist? And does it always automatically go to the winner? A look at German history shows that there can also be second winners.

One of the laws of a state election is that the party with the most votes derives a so-called “government mandate” from its result. This was also the case in North Rhine-Westphalia on Sunday. The CDU’s top candidate, Hendrik Wüst, took the stage, celebrated for the 35.7 percent of his party and said: “It’s our job to form and lead a government.”