The CDU and the Greens have cleared the last hurdle on the way to a joint government in NRW. After the grassroots voted yes to the coalition agreement, the re-election of Prime Minister Wüst is a mere formality.

Six weeks after the state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, the CDU and the Greens cleared the way for the country’s first black-green government with a strong base vote.

After state party conferences on Saturday in Bonn and Bielefeld clearly said yes to the black-green coalition agreement, there is practically nothing standing in the way of the re-election of Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) on Tuesday in the Düsseldorf state parliament. Since the CDU and the Greens have a comfortable majority of 115 of the 195 mandates, no surprises are to be expected in the secret ballot in the five-party parliament of the most populous federal state.

This means that the number of black-green two-party alliances in Germany will increase in the foreseeable future: party conferences in Schleswig-Holstein are also due to decide this Monday on the finalized coalition agreement. In Hesse and Baden-Württemberg, coalitions between the CDU and the Greens have been working for years.

Wüst: “The foundation has been laid”

Both Wüst and the state party leader of the Greens, Mona Neubaur, as well as CDU federal party leader Friedrich Merz, had urged their base to accept the 146-page “Future Treaty for North Rhine-Westphalia” before the vote. “The foundation for successful work for North Rhine-Westphalia over the next five years has been laid,” said Wüst. The 46-year-old spoke of a “good contract for the country, for the people and the future of our children”. Westphalian Merz called him “a good basis for good cooperation and for a good state government in Düsseldorf” in a video greeting.

For the Christian Democrats, the matter was scratched after just under an hour and a single request to speak: After the open vote by show of hands, which was completed in record time, the party conference presidium spoke of an “overwhelming majority” with only 4 dissenting votes in the ranks of around 580 delegates present.

Minutes later, when the urgent vote of the Christian Democrats without discussion leaked out at the party conference of the Greens in Bielefeld, it was greeted with great laughter in the hall. There was a need for several hours of discussion here.

Voting after almost six hours of debate

Critical voices were raised, for example, about the unclear future of the village of Lützerath in the Rhenish lignite mining area, which was threatened by dredging, and about the lack of commitment to a “collective agreement for relief” for nursing staff at university clinics. The critics announced that they would reject the coalition agreement. The Green Youth had previously called for this. After almost six hours of debate, 216 delegates voted yes, 30 voted no and 8 abstained.

Neubaur, who – like Wüst in Bonn – was greeted with long applause at the start of the party conference, reminded her party that after the state elections on May 15, the citizens expected the Greens to take over government responsibility. In the next five years, NRW should become more socially just, ecological, digital and economically stronger, she said. With 18.2 percent, she had led her party to triple her result compared to 2017. The 44-year-old qualified teacher is to become Minister for Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate and Energy and Deputy Prime Minister in a black-green cabinet.

Wüst said in Bonn: “We want to make North Rhine-Westphalia the first climate-neutral industrial region in Europe.” In the joint talks after the state elections, the necessary trust was built to break new ground together – even if there are still many different positions in the two parties.

He cited the expansion of renewable energies as an example. The aim is now to identify more areas for the construction of wind turbines. “Better to have 50 systems concentrated in three places than three systems in 50 places.” In the future, wind turbines could also be located where nature and species protection would previously have prevented this. The fiercely disputed minimum distance of 1000 meters between wind turbines and residential buildings is to be gradually abolished.

Wüst promised children, parents and teachers “school peace” and reliability after the uncertainty caused by the corona. “There will be no system debate. The special schools will remain.” The new state government will hire 10,000 new teachers and improve the quality of all-day offers.

Contract signing scheduled for Monday

The signing of the coalition agreement is planned for Monday. On Wednesday, the complete new state cabinet is to be presented to the public and sworn in in the state parliament. The coalition agreement provides for eight ministries for the CDU and four for the Greens. The eco-party has already announced who it would like to send to the cabinet – the CDU is still guarding its personal secrets.

On May 15, the CDU emerged as the clear winner of the state elections in the most populous federal state with 35.7 percent. The Greens were able to almost triple their share of the vote compared to 2017 to 18.2 percent and ended up in third place behind the collapsed SPD (26.7). The Free Democrats had halved their election result to 5.9 percent. Black and yellow could therefore no longer govern.