1970
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Heinz Kühn

Heinz Kühn
Source: Landespresse- und Informationsamt NRW

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Politics

Red forever more?

For the first time, the SPD, led by bulletHeinz Kühn, takes power directly through the bulletballot box - rather than after a mid-term coalition reshuffle. A very long Social Democratic era begins on 14 June 1970. Indeed, so long that, years later, North Rhine-Westphalians come to assume that NRW has always been an SPD stronghold.

The incumbent state premier, Ministerpräsident Heinz Kühn, promises SPD rank-and-filers what they want with his "Kühn Guarantee" at the outset of the election campaign.

But despite his efforts at mobilisation, the Social Democrats' share of the vote actually falls by 3.5%. Fortunately for them, however, their previous coalition partners in the FDP just manage to scramble over the five percent hurdle.

The Free Democrats get enough votes for the state assembly, the Landtag, with their slogan "Demand liberal policies!". Despite their losses, the coalition partners want to stay together and form a new government.

One reason why there is a lack of enthusiasm for the SPD-FDP government is its territorial reform programme - seen as a key task alongside economic restructuring.

Many citizens are simply fed up with non-stop change, having seen so many reform initiatives through the bulletcrisis years in the coal industry. They don't feel at home in the new bulletadministrative units, preferring stability to yet more upheaval.

A conservative mood is reinforced by the Catholic bishops. They don't like the non-denominational "community" schools, the bulletGemeinschaftsschule, which were introduced alongside church-based schools.

The bishops call on their flock to vote for those candidates who explicitly avow Christian principles.

Dirk Bitzer

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