West German federal election, 1949

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Election for the 1st German Federal Diet[1]
West Germany
1938 ←
14 August 1949 (1949-08-14)[1]
→ 1953

All 402 seats in the Bundestag, as well as 8 nonvoting delegates elected by the West Berlin Legislature
206 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 78.5%
  First party Second party Third party
  Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F078072-0004, Konrad Adenauer.jpg K.Schumacher.jpg Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-P001512, Franz Blücher 2.jpg
Leader Konrad Adenauer Kurt Schumacher Franz Blücher
Party CDU/CSU SPD FDP
Seats won 139 131 52
Popular vote 7,359,084 6,934,975 2,829,920
Percentage 31.0% 29.2% 11.9%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
 
Party KPD BP DP
Seats won 15 17 17
Popular vote 1,361,706 986,478 939,934
Percentage 5.7% 4.2% 4.0%

West German Federal Election - Party results by state - 1949.png

Election results by state: the lighter blue denotes states where CDU/CSU had the plurality of votes; darker blue denotes states where CDU/CSU had the absolute majority of the votes; and pink denotes states where the SPD had the plurality of votes

Chancellor before election

Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk
(Leading Minister until 23 May 1945)

Resulting Chancellor

Konrad Adenauer
CDU/CSU

Federal elections were held in West Germany on 14 August 1949,[2] with a further eight seats elected in West Berlin between 1949 and January 1952 and another eleven between February 1952 and 1953.[3] They were the first contested elections since 1933 and the first after the division of the country.

Issues and Campaign[edit]

After World War II, the German Instrument of Surrender and the country's division into four Allied occupation zones, the elections were held in the Federal Republic of Germany, established under occupation statute in the three Western zones with the proclamation of its Basic Law by the Parlamentarischer Rat assembly of the West German states on 23 May 1949. Most West German parties at the time of the 1949 Bundestag election were committed to democracy, but they disagreed on what kind of democracy West Germany should become.

CDU election poster

The Christian Democratic (CDU) leader, 73-year-old Konrad Adenauer, former mayor of Cologne and party chairman in the British Zone since March 1946, believed in moderate, non-denominational and humanist Christian democracy (see, for example, Dennis L. Bark and David R. Gress, A History of West Germany, volume 1: 1945–1963: From Shadow to Substance, London, UK: Basil Blackwell, 1989; Erling Bjöl, Grimberg's History of the Nations, volume 23: The Rich West, "The Giant Dwarf: West Germany," Helsinki: WSOY, 1985), social market economy and integration with the West. In 1948 he had become president of the Parlamentarischer Rat, an office that added to his popularity as protagonist of a "state-to-be".

The Social Democratic (SPD) leader, Kurt Schumacher, wanted a united, democratic and socialist Germany. Schumacher had heavily agitated against the 1946 merger of the SPD and the Communist Party (KPD) in the Soviet occupation zone and had turned the party's course away from the working class advocacy group of the Weimar Republic towards a left-wing big tent party with distinct patriotic features. He constantly accused Adenauer of betraying national interests (see, for example, Bjöl, Grimberg's History of the Nations), culminating in his heckle at the Bundestag session of 25 September 1949: "The Chancellor of the Allies!".

Results[edit]

In the end and to the great disappointment of the Social Democrats, the CDU/CSU outnumbered them by 31.0% to 29.2% of the votes cast. Enough participating West Germans favoured Adenauer's and his coalition partners' – the liberal Free Democrats' (FDP) and the conservative German Party's (DP) – policies and promises over Schumacher's and the other left-wingers' policies to give the centre-right parties a slight majority of deputies.

To enter the Bundestag, a party had to surmount a threshold of 5% at least in one of the states or to win at least one electoral district; ten parties succeeded. A number of non-voting members (elected in 1949:2 CDU, 5 SPD, 1 FDP; joined in February 1952 by: 3 CDU, 4 SPD, 4 FDP) indirectly elected by the West Berlin legislature (Stadtverordnetenversammlung) are included below in parentheses. The French Saar Protectorate did not participate in this election.


e • d Summary of the 14 August 1949 German Bundestag election results
Parties Votes  % Con.
seats
PL
seats
Total
seats
 %
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 6,934,975 29.2 96 35 131 (9) 32.6
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 5,978,636 25.2 91 24 115 (5) 28.6
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 2,829,920 11.9 12 40 52 (5) 12.9
Christian Social Union (CSU) 1,380,448 5.8 24 0 24 6.0
Communist Party of Germany (KPD) 1,361,706 5.7 0 15 15 3.7
Bavaria Party (BP) 986,478 4.2 11 6 17 4.2
German Party (DP) 939,934 4.0 5 12 17 4.2
Centre Party (DZP) 727,505 3.1 0 10 10 2.5
Economic Reconstruction League (WAV) 681,888 2.9 0 12 12 3.0
German Conservative Party – German Right Party (DKP-DRP) 429,031 1.8 0 5 5 1.2
South Schleswig Voter Federation (SSW) 75,388 0.3 0 1 1 0.2
Independents 1,141,647 4.8 3 0 3 0.7
Radical Social Freedom Party (RSF) 216,749 0.9 0 0 0 0
European People's Movement of Germany (EVD) 26,162 0.1 0 0 0 0
Rheinish-Westfalian People's Party (RWVP) 21,931 0.1 0 0 0 0
Invalid/blank votes 763,216
Totals 24,495,614 100 242 160 402 (19) 100
Registered voters/turnout 31,207,620 78.5
Source: Federal Returning Officer, Nohlen & Stöver
Popular Vote
CDU/CSU
  
31.01%
SPD
  
29.22%
FDP (DVP/DStP)
  
11.92%
KPD
  
5.74%
BP (BVP)
  
4.16%
DP (KSWR)
  
3.96%
Zentrum
  
3.07%
WAV
  
2.87%
DKP-DRP
  
1.81%
Other
  
6.24%
Bundestag seats
CDU/CSU
  
34.58%
SPD
  
32.59%
FDP (DVP/DStP)
  
12.94%
BP (BVP)
  
4.23%
DP (KSWR)
  
4.23%
KPD
  
3.73%
WAV
  
2.99%
Zentrum
  
2.49%
DKP-DRP
  
1.24%
Other
  
1.00%

Post-election[edit]

Schumacher had explicitly refused a grand coalition and led his party into opposition, where it would remain until 1966, assuming the chair of the SPD parliamentary group as minority leader. On 12 September 1949, he lost the German presidential election, defeated by FDP chairman Theodor Heuss in the second ballot. Schumacher died on 20 August 1952 of the long-term consequences of his concentration camp imprisonment during the Nazi years.

Adenauer had favoured the formation of a smaller centre-right coalition from the beginning. Nominated by the CDU/CSU faction, he was elected the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany on 15 September 1949 by an absolute majority of 202 of 402 votes. Adenauer had ensured that the votes of the predominantly Social Democrat West Berlin deputies did not count and later stated that he "naturally" had voted for himself. On 20 September he formed the Cabinet Adenauer I of CDU/CSU, FDP, and DP ministers. Chosen as an interim Chancellor, he held the office until 1963, being re-elected three times.

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Wahl zum 1. Deutschen Bundestag am 14. August 1949" (in German). Bundeswahlleiter. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Nohlen, Dieter; Stöver, Philip (31 May 2010). Elections in Europe: A data handbook. Nomos. p. 762. ISBN 978-3832956097. 
  3. ^ Nohlen, Dieter; Stöver, Philip (31 May 2010). Elections in Europe: A data handbook. Nomos. p. 793. ISBN 978-3832956097.