1961 West German federal election

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1961 West German federal election

← 1957 17 September 1961 (1961-09-17) 1965 →

All 499 seats in the Bundestag[a]
250 seats needed for a majority
Registered37,440,715 Increase 5.8%
Turnout32,849,624 (87.7%) Decrease 0.1pp
  First party Second party Third party
  Adenauer Bouserath2 (cropped).jpg Willy Brandt.jpg Bundesarchiv Bild 183-87989-0060, Erich Mende.jpg
Candidate Konrad Adenauer Willy Brandt Erich Mende
Party CDU/CSU SPD FDP
Last election 50.2%, 270 seats 31.8%, 169 seats 7.7%, 41 seats
Seats won 242[b] 190[c] 67
Seat change Decrease 28 Increase 21 Increase 26
Popular vote 14,298,372 11,427,355 4,028,766
Percentage 45.3% 36.2% 12.8%
Swing Decrease 4.9pp Increase 4.4pp Increase 5.1pp

Bundestagswahl 1961 - Ergebnisse Wahlkreise.png
Results by constituency for the first votes. Grey denotes seats won by the CDU/CSU; red denotes seats won by the SPD.

Government before election

Third Adenauer cabinet
CDU/CSU

Government after election

Fourth Adenauer cabinet
CDU/CSUFDP

Federal elections were held in West Germany on 17 September 1961 to elect the members of the fourth Bundestag. CDU/CSU remained the largest faction, winning 242 of the 499 seats.

Campaign[edit]

Election posters

For the first time, the SPD announced a Chancellor candidate who was not chairman of the party: Willy Brandt, the Governing Mayor of West Berlin. After the building of the Berlin Wall, he gained more and more sympathy, while chancellor Konrad Adenauer was criticised for not showing enough support for the people of West Berlin. Adenauer had to save the absolute majority of CDU and CSU, but, considering his age and his long term as chancellor, there were big doubts if he should lead the country in a fourth term.

Results[edit]

Bundestag 1961.svg
Party Constituency Party list Total
seatsa
+/–
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 11,672,057 36.5 91 11,427,355 36.2 99 190 +21
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 11,622,995 36.3 114 11,283,901 35.8 78 192 −23
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 3,866,269 12.1 0 4,028,766 12.8 67 67 +26
Christian Social Union (CSU) 3,104,742 9.7 42 3,014,471 9.6 8 50 −5
All-German Party (GDP)b 859,290 2.7 0 870,756 2.8 0 0 −17
German Peace Union (DFU)c 587,488 1.8 0 609,918 1.9 0 0 0
Deutsche Reichspartei (DRP) 242,649 0.8 0 262,977 0.8 0 0 0
German Community (DG) 21,083 0.1 0 27,308 0.1 0 0 0
South Schleswig Voters' Association (SSW) 24,951 0.1 0 25,449 0.1 0 0 0
Electoral Group for a Neutral Germany (WGnD) 778 0.0 0 0 New
Independents and voter groups 2,164 0.0 0 0 0
Valid votes 32,004,466 97.4 31,550,901 96.0
Invalid/blank votes 845,158 2.6 1,298,723 4.0
Total votes 32,849,624 100.0 247 32,849,624 100.0 252 499 +2
Registered voters/turnout 37,440,715 87.7 37,440,715 87.7
Source: Bundeswahlleiter
^a – excludes the non-voting delegates for West Berlin (13 SPD, 9 CDU).
^b – merger of the German Party and the All-German Bloc/League of Expellees and Deprived of Rights.
^c – previously the Alliance of Germans (Bund der Deutschen, BdD).
242 67 190
CDU/CSU FDP SPD
Popular vote
CDU/CSU
45.32%
SPD
36.22%
FDP
12.77%
GDP
2.76%
DFU
1.93%
Other
1.00%
Bundestag seats
CDU/CSU
48.50%
SPD
38.08%
FDP
13.43%

Aftermath[edit]

The absolute majority was lost by the conservative union due to the gains of the liberal FDP under Erich Mende. From 1961 on, the Union, SPD and FDP established an electoral "triopoly" in the Bundestag that would last until 1983.

Konrad Adenauer remained Chancellor, building a coalition between the CDU/CSU-FDP. In 1962 he had to announce a fifth cabinet: The FDP had temporarily left the coalition after the secretary of defense, Franz Josef Strauß (CSU), had ordered the arrest of five journalists for publishing a memo detailing alleged weaknesses in the German armed forces (known as the Spiegel scandal). In 1963 Adenauer finally retired; Ludwig Erhard took over his position as head of the coalition government.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barnes, Samuel H.; Grace, Frank; Pollock, James K.; Sperlich, Peter W. (1962). "The German Party System and the 1961 Federal Election". American Political Science Review. 56 (4): 899–914. doi:10.2307/1952792.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ As well as the 22 non-voting delegates for West Berlin, elected by the West Berlin Legislature.
  2. ^ As well as the 9 non-voting delegates for West Berlin.
  3. ^ As well as the 13 non-voting delegates for West Berlin.

References[edit]

External links[edit]