West German Election, 1961

August 23, 1961

Report Outline
Electoral Decision in Time of Crisis
West Germany's Political Party System
Leading Personalities in 1961 Campaign
Special Focus

Electoral Decision in Time of Crisis

Influence of Berlin Crisis on 1961 Election

Communist action to seal the sector borders between West and East Berlin, interfering with the freedom of movement guaranteed by four-power agreements on the status of the city, has sharply intensified the long gathering Berlin crisis. It may also have had decisive effect on the outcome of the national elections to be held in West Germany on Sept. 17. In that contest Mayor Willy Brandt of West Berlin is challenging the bid of venerable Konrad Adenauer to continue in the post of Chancellor of the Federal Republic—an office which Adenauer has already held for 12 years.

Reactions of the two men to the new turn of events in Berlin have differed somewhat. Both have voiced strong opposition to the Communist moves, but while Adenauer has gone along with the firm but cautious protests of the Big Three Western powers, Brandt has warned against a passive attitude and called for “convincing non-military counter-measures.” The Bundestag, listening to both men at a special session in Bonn on Aug. 18, gave vigorous applause and seemingly equal support to each.

On the basis of age alone, it might be supposed that 47-year-old Brandt would be deemed by West German voters better able than 85-year-old Adenauer to bear the heavy burden of leading the country at such a difficult time. However, Brandt has faced an uphill task from the outset. Now, despite admiration of his courage in front of the Russians, whatever chances he had of replacing the old Chancellor may have been hurt by the recognized risks of turning to a new man in time of crisis.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Dec. 22, 1989  A Primer on German Reunification
Apr. 19, 1985  German Reconciliation
Feb. 25, 1983  West Germany's ‘Missile’ Election
Jan. 14, 1970  German Reconciliation
Jan. 29, 1969  West German Prosperity
Mar. 30, 1966  German Border Question and Reunification
Aug. 18, 1965  West German Election, 1965
Feb. 24, 1965  War Guilt Expiation
Jul. 01, 1964  German Question
Sep. 01, 1961  Captive East Germany
Aug. 23, 1961  West German Election, 1961
May 04, 1960  Berlin Question
Dec. 24, 1958  Berlin Crisis and German Reunification
Aug. 21, 1957  German Election, 1957
Oct. 19, 1955  European Security
Jun. 15, 1955  Germany and the Balance of Power
Oct. 19, 1954  German Rearmament
Jan. 19, 1954  West German Recovery
Mar. 12, 1953  Harassed Berlin
Apr. 26, 1950  German Problem
Feb. 18, 1948  Rehabilitation of the Ruhr
Oct. 23, 1946  Future of Germany
Nov. 25, 1944  Transfers of Populations
Nov. 01, 1940  Economic Controls in Nazi Germany
Mar. 09, 1939  Foreign Trade in German Economy
Apr. 02, 1936  Germany's Post-War European Relations
Nov. 02, 1934  The Coming Saab Plebiscite
Apr. 23, 1931  The Austro-German Customs Union Project
Feb. 05, 1929  The Rhineland Problem
Nov. 07, 1924  German National Elections December, 1924
Apr. 30, 1924  The German National Elections
Regional Political Affairs: Europe