Democrats are poor losers

: Losers arm in arm

Two winners, two losers and an unexpected decision - that is the result of the local elections in North Rhine-Westphalia. After an unemotional election campaign that Franz Josef Strauss only heated up in a few cities, and after a rather moderate turnout of around 70 percent, it was clear last Sunday evening that almost everything would stay the same. The Union gained another 0.2 percentage points and expanded its position as the strongest local party; Social Democrats and Free Democrats each lost 0.6 points, and nationwide the two major parties in their strongholds lost.

There is no reason to be upset if you think there hadn't been a second winner. Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and Free Democrats did not need to worry the 1.5 percent of the Greens if the unloved competitors had not jumped the barrier wherever there are or will be environmental problems - for example in Ahaus, which has a temporary storage pool for to receive spent reactor elements. The established parties have not been able to channel the protest, which promises troubled times and unpleasant surprises.

Especially for the Free Democrats. In several large cities they have already fallen victim to the green advance and have not returned to the councils. The hope of remaining strong by mediating between left and right or even drawing a profit from the unease about the big ones, at least keeping the coalition question open, has been dampened. And so, less than 24 hours later, state chairman Riemer, surprisingly, accepted the continuation of the social-liberal alliance in Düsseldorf. The losers move closer together.

How did the parties say before Sunday? "No test choice." The voters stuck to it. H. B.