Election Times

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 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. After winning the election Juergen Ruettgers 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.