When Mona Neubaur comes back to the Rheinwiese, the enthusiasm of her Greens is as great as it is usually only for Annalena Baerbock or Robert Habeck.

The evening is mild in front of the Düsseldorf Apollo Theater under the Rheinknie Bridge, the wine is still cool and the mood is more than boisterous, even for green conditions, which have recently become quite accustomed to in this respect.

Pure burger

Political correspondent in North Rhine-Westphalia.

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Leonie Feuerbach

Editor in Politics.

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Oliver Georgi

Editor in the politics of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper.

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The top candidate of the Greens in North Rhine-Westphalia made her way through the crowd late on Sunday evening, surrounded by well-wishers, shaking hands here and handing out Bützchen there.

Then an acquaintance saw her and stormed towards her.

"Hello, Queen of North Rhine-Westphalia," he says and hugs her.

Laughter from the bystanders.

She grins briefly, then replies dryly: "No, I'll just stay Mona Neubaur." More laughter.

Nevertheless, this is also coquetry.

Because the Greens are the big winners of the North Rhine-Westphalian state elections and the kingmakers.

Because the CDU and SPD do not want a grand coalition, there can be no new government in Düsseldorf without the Greens.

For the first time, the Greens win many direct mandates

Not only did they get 18.2 percent in the election and almost tripled their result from 2017, for the first time ever they were also able to win many direct mandates in NRW;

four in Cologne, one in Aachen and two in Munster.

The Greens have thus succeeded where they have always failed in recent years: to establish themselves as the third-strongest political force on the Rhine and Ruhr.

Shortly thereafter, only a few hundred meters away, Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst comes again to the election party in the garden of the CDU state headquarters in the Wasserstrasse, where things are even more frenetic than with the Greens.

"This is what winners look like, shalalalala," echoed his fellow party members.

The music is turned up so loud that the power goes out at times.

Later, emergency services from the Düsseldorf public order office arrive because residents complain about the noise pollution.

The Christian Democrats' jubilation is understandable.

After the failed federal election under Union Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet, pollsters rated the North Rhine-Westphalian CDU at just over 20 percent.

When Wüst succeeded Laschet as prime minister at the end of October, the party recovered in the polls.

But up to the final phase of the election campaign, the CDU seemed to be just ahead of the SPD in the best-case scenario.

But now the Christian Democrats have outclassed their main competitor, with 35.7 percent they are exactly nine points ahead and are the leading force in the country.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, as in the federal government, a traffic light government is an option.

But with an SPD that has fallen to historic depths and an FDP that has been literally thrown through the meat grinder, the stability of such an alliance would be in question from day one.

The FDP makes no advances

This is another reason why Hendrik Wüst is now in a strong position.

As on Sunday evening, he speaks again and again on Monday about the "crystal-clear government mandate" that his party now has.

He will talk to all democratic parties in the North Rhine-Westphalian state parliament.

However, there will not be a grand coalition in Düsseldorf this time either, neither the CDU nor the SPD are striving for it.

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