2005 North Rhine-Westphalia state election

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2005 North Rhine-Westphalia state election

← 2000 22 May 2005 2010 →

All 187 seats of the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia
  First party Second party
  Juergen Ruettgers.jpg Peer Steinbrück, Rhein-Ruhr-Halle Duisburg, 2005.jpg
Leader Jürgen Rüttgers Peer Steinbrück
Last election 88 seats, 37.0% 102 seats, 42.8%
Seats won 89 74
Seat change Increase1 Decrease28
Popular vote 3,695,806 3,059,074
Percentage 44.8% 37.1%
Swing Increase7.8% Decrease5.7%

  Third party Fourth party
  Bhoehn.jpg Andreas Pinkwart2.jpg
Leader Bärbel Höhn Andreas Pinkwart
Party Green FDP
Last election 17 seats, 7.1%[1] 24 seats, 10.4%
Seats won 12 12
Seat change Decrease5 Decrease12
Popular vote 509,219 508,354
Percentage 6.2% 6.2%
Swing Decrease0.9% Decrease4.2%

Minister-President before election

Peer Steinbrück

Elected Minister-President

Jürgen Rüttgers

The North Rhine-Westphalia state election, 2005, was conducted on 22 May 2005, to elect members to the Landtag (state legislature) of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. It was a victory for the Christian Democratic Union, who received enough seats to form a coalition with their preferred partner, the FDP, and end the previous government formed by the Social Democratic Party and the Greens, who also ruled at the federal level.

Seat results -- SPD in red, Greens in green, FDP in yellow, CDU in black

Issues and Campaign[edit]

Leading up to the election, the state was run by a coalition of the Social Democratic Party and the Greens, with Peer Steinbrück as minister-president.

For much of 2004, there had been speculation that if the opposition Christian Democratic Union were to win this election, they would gain a two-thirds majority in the national upper house, the Bundesrat, and force a new election for the Bundestag by making the country ungovernable for Gerhard Schröder's coalition. Following the CDU's loss of a majority in Saxony, this risk was alleviated; however, North Rhine-Westphalia had been governed by the SPD alone or in coalition since 1966, so a defeat there would be perceived as a grave blow to the SPD.

Leading up to the election, polling in the state indicated a consistent lead (from 5-11% depending on agency) for a coalition of the CDU and the FDP over the SPD-Green share. In general, high German unemployment and the unpopularity of the national SPD and the Hartz IV reforms appeared to have taken a toll. Polls did indicate that SPD state leader Steinbrück was personally more popular than CDU state leader Jürgen Rüttgers, though.

This election marked the debut of the Labor and Social Justice Party, a new party formed by activists disenchanted with what they consider the neoliberal leanings displayed by the SPD.


Official results are as follows. Note that overall seat totals have been reduced, lowering the seat counts for all parties.

Voter turnout was at 63%, an increase of 7% over the previous election in 2000. Previous to the election, some analysts had predicted that a CDU victory might result from disenchanted SPD voters staying home, but the turnout figures appear to reject this scenario.

Party Party List votes Vote percentage (change) Total Seats (change) Seat percentage
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 3,059,074 37.1% -5.7% 74 -28 39.6%
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 3,695,806 44.8% +7.9% 89 +1 47.6%
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 508,354 6.2% -3.7% 12 -12 6.4%
Alliance '90/The Greens 509,219 6.2% -0.9% 12 -5 6.4%
Labour and Social Justice Party (WASG) 181,886 2.2% +2.2% 0 +0 0.0%
National Democratic Party (NPD) 73,959 0.9% +0.9% 0 +0 0.0%
Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) 72,982 0.9% -0.2% 0 +0 0.0%
The Republicans 67,282 0.8% -0.3% 0 +0 0.0%
All Others 74,810 0.9% +0.5% 0 +0 0.0%
Totals 8,243,372 100.0%   187 -44 100.0%


Jürgen Rüttgers announced his intention to form a coalition with the FDP and form a government for the state. This would be the first non-SPD government in North Rhine-Westphalia since 1966.

Further, SPD party leader Franz Müntefering and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder unexpectedly announced preliminary plans to call an early federal election in autumn 2005, saying that the current federal coalition needed a fresh mandate to continue with reforms.


NRW election authority


  1. ^ In 2007 the deputy Rüdiger Sagel left the Greens and joined the Left Party