Past winners of Germany's national elections

Politics

1949: Konrad Adenauer wins first post-war German election

The first election after the Second World War was arguably the most important in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany and certainly the closest. Konrad Adenauer of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) became West Germany's first chancellor by the margin of one vote - his own. Nonetheless, his government would prove very stable. And very popular.

Politics

1953: Adenauer wins re-election

If the first West Germany election was a nail-biter, the second one was a runaway. The CDU under Konrad Adenauer took 45.2 percent of the vote compared to 28.8 for the Social Democrats (SPD). Thanks to coalitions with three other parties, Adenauer enjoyed a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Politics

1957: Adenauer makes it three on the trot

In Germany's third election, Adenauer's CDU joined together with the Bavarian conservative party the Christian Social Union (CSU) to form the CDU-CSU, or what's often referred to as the "Union." Together they took more than 50 percent of the vote. Adenauer was 81 years old when he started his third term in office.

Politics

1961: One last hurrah for Adenauer

The 85-year-old Adenauer won one final election, but his term wasn't happy, as critics accused him of failing to respond adequately to the construction of the Berlin Wall, and he stepped down in 1963 in favor of conservative Vice-Chancellor and Economic Minister Ludwig Erhard. By 1961, only three parties were represented in the Bundestag: The CDU-CSU, SPD and the Free Democratic Party (FDP).

Politics

1965: Ludwig Erhard wins on back of economic miracle

Ludwig Erhard (right) succeeded in extending the conservatives' electoral winning streak, although their dominance was soon to end. The former economic minister received much credit for West Germany's prosperity, but he was no good at foreign policy and resigned halfway through his term. His replacement, Kurt Georg Kiesinger, was the only chancellor never to win election to the post.

Politics

1969: Willy Brandt becomes first Social Democratic chairman

The 1960s were a time when people in West Germany, like people throughout the world, were questioning traditions, and in the final year of the decade, West Berlin mayor Willy Brandt became the first Social Democrat chancellor. The SPD actually received fewer votes than the CDU-CSU, but a coalition deal with the FDP took them to power.

Politics

1972: Brandt returns to office but not for long

The next German election was moved forward a year after parliamentarians held a vote of no confidence against Brandt. That move backfired for conservatives. For the first time in West German history, the SPD got more votes than the CDU-CSU in a Bundestag election. But a close associate of Brandt turned out to be an East German spy, and Brandt stepped down in favor of Helmut Schmidt.

Politics

1976: Helmut Schmidt solidifies power

Brandt's successor Helmut Schmidt was able to retain the chancellorship in 1976 despite the SPD polling 6 percent less than the CDU-CSU. That was thanks to the SPD's coalition partners the FDP, who tipped the balance. This was the first West German election in which 18-year-olds were allowed to vote. The voting age had been lowered from 21 the previous year.

Politics

1980: Schmidt wins again but is on borrowed time

Schmidt had a relatively easy time getting re-elected, in part because the conservatives fielded a CSU candidate for the first time in their history. But like US President Jimmy Carter, he never succeeded in getting the electorate behind his government. In 1982, he was deserted by his coalition partners, the FDP, who joined forces with the CDU-CSU to replace Schmidt with a conservative chancellor.

Politics

1983: Helmut Kohl begins long reign

To gain legitimacy, CDU Chancellor Helmut Kohl moved West Germany's national election forward a year. The move paid off as the conservatives trashed the SPD by 48.8 to 38.2 percent. Many leftists considered Kohl a figure too plodding and dimwitted to last for long. They were wrong. 1983 was also the year that the Greens entered the Bundestag for the first time.

Politics

1987: Kohl rides conservative wave to re-election

The 1980s were a conservative decade, with Ronald Reagan in the US, Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Kohl in Germany, and the CDU man rode this trend to re-election. Kohl was happy to appear at Reagan's side during his famous "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech. Little did anyone know that the Wall would soon be coming down, and 1987 would be the final West German election.

Politics

1990: There's no beating 'unity chancellor' Kohl

Kohl toasted the reunification of Germany with East German Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere on October 3, 1990, and two months later voters all over the country went to the polls in another early national election. The mood was euphoric, and there was no beating the "Unification Chancellor." Kohl was returned for a third stint in office.

Politics

1994: A final triumph for Kohl

By 1994, five years after the Berlin Wall came down, the first social problems caused by reunification were becoming apparent. Nonetheless, Kohl won re-election relatively comfortably. That was in part due to a weak Social Democratic challenger who famously stumbled over the difference between net and gross on German TV.

Politics

1998: Gerhard Schröder begins coalition experiment

By 1998, voters had had enough of Kohl, and Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder (left) was there to profit. The SPD drubbed the CDU-CSU 40.9 to 35.1 percent in the vote and formed a coalition with the Greens, led by Joschka Fischer (middle). 1998 was also the first time that the PDS (today the Left Party), the successor to the old East German socialist party, entered the Bundestag.

Politics

2002: Schröder wins re-election post 9/11

The 2002 election was a dead heat, with both the SPD and the CDU-CSU taking 38.5 percent of the vote. Schröder was returned to office because coalition partners the Greens were stronger than the FDP. One of Schröder's main challenges was dealing with George W. Bush. After 9/11, the chancellor proclaimed "unlimited solidarity" with the US, but Germany did not support the Iraq War.

Politics

2005: Merkel narrowly returns conservatives to power

Angela Merkel became Germany's first female chancellor in 2005, after Schröder, who was under fire for his austerity programs, engineered another early election. The former East German prevailed by a whisker. The conservatives' advantage over the SPD was less than 1 percent, and Merkel's first term in office was as the head of a "grand coalition" with her main rivals.

Politics

2009: Merkel gets 'dream coalition' with FDP

Merkel's second national election was a much clearer affair than her first one. Support for the SPD plummeted, while the FDP, led by Guido Westerwelle, gained votes. As a result the conservatives were able to form a government with their preferred coalition partners. But for the centrist Merkel, this coalition seemed to fall quite short of a dream.

Politics

2013: Merkel celebrates third term in office

By 2013, Merkel was entrenched as Germany's most popular politician, and the conservatives finished way ahead of the SPD. But because the Free Democrats failed to clear the Bundestag's 5 percent hurdle and dropped out of parliament, the re-elected chancellor had to form another grand coalition. That didn't stop "Angie," as she was now affectionately known, from enjoying a beer.

Eighteen times in the post-war era Germans have headed to the polls to elect a national parliament and, with it, a chancellor. These are the men and woman who have come out on top.