All 521 seats in the Bundestag
261 seats needed for a majority
|Turnout||87.7% (voting eligible)|
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politics and government of
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, while the Social Democratic Party narrowly became the largest individual party in the Bundestag, winning 203 of the 521 seats.
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.
|Parties||Constituency||Party list||Total seats|
|Social Democratic Party (SPD)||11,672,057||36.5||+4.5||91||+45||11,427,355||36.2||+4.4||99||−24||203||+22||39.0|
|Christian Democratic Union (CDU)||11,622,995||36.3||−3.4||114||−33||11,283,901||35.8||−3.9||78||+10||201||−21||38.6|
|Free Democratic Party (FDP)||3,866,269||12.1||+4.6||0||−1||4,028,766||12.8||+5.1||67||+27||67||+23||12.9|
|Christian Social Union (CSU)||3,104,742||9.7||−0.9||42||−5||3,014,471||9.6||−0.9||8||±0||50||−5||9.6|
|All-German Party (GDP)‡||859,290||2.7||−5.2||0||−6||870,756||2.8||−5.2||0||−11||0||−17||0|
|German Peace Union (DFU)||587,488||1.8||+1.8||0||±0||609,918||1.9||+1.9||0||±0||0||±0||0|
|German Reich Party (DRP)||242,649||0.8||−0.2||0||±0||262,977||0.8||−0.2||0||±0||0||±0||0|
|South Schleswig Voter Federation (SSW)||24,951||0.1||±0||0||±0||25,449||0.1||±0||0||±0||0||±0||0|
|German Community (DG)||21,083||0.1||±0||0||±0||27,308||0.1||±0||0||±0||0||±0||0|
|Electoral Group for a Neutral Germany (WGnD)||778||0.0||+0.0||0||±0||–||–||–||–||–||0||±0||0|
|Electoral groups and independents||2,164||0.0||±0||0||±0||–||–||–||–||–||0||±0||0|
|Source: Federal Returning Officer|
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 resigned; Ludwig Erhard took over his position as head of the coalition and government.