Kurt Schumacher (SPD)
In the election to the first Bundestag in 1949, the SPD headed up with Kurt Schumacher. He played a key role in rebuilding the SPD after 1945. During the time of National Socialism he was locked up as a political prisoner in concentration camps for many years. With Schumacher, the party reached 29.2 percent and landed just behind the Union in second place, which achieved 31 percent. The picture shows Schumacher in a London hotel at the end of 1946.
Erich Ollenhauer was not only chairman of the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag for nine years, but also the Social Democrats’ candidate for chancellor. Ollenhauer competed twice against Konrad Adenauer (CDU) without success. In 1953 he got 28.8 percent of the vote, in 1957 it was 31.8 percent. Here he gives a speech in March 1958 at the rally "Fight against nuclear death" in Frankfurt am Main.
The SPD chancellor candidates since the founding of the Federal Republic
Willy Brandt led the SPD four times in the federal election campaign: 1961 (36.2 percent), 1965 (39.3 percent), 1969 (42.7 percent), 1972 (45.8 percent). In 1961 the Lord Mayor of Berlin failed against Adenauer, in 1965 against Ludwig Erhard. In 1969 Brandt was promoted from Vice Chancellor of the Grand Coalition to Chancellor of a social-liberal alliance. In 1972 he defended his chancellorship from office.
Helmut Schmidt inherited Brandt in 1974 after his resignation as Federal Chancellor during the legislative period. Schmidt therefore contested the first federal election campaign as the SPD’s top candidate in 1976 with an official bonus – and won 42.6 percent against the Union candidate Helmut Kohl. In 1980 Schmidt successfully competed against Franz-Josef Strauss (42.9 percent). Schmidt did not lose his office in an election, but through the break with the social-liberal coalition in October 1982. He was succeeded by Helmut Kohl.
Hans-Jochen Vogel at the lectern
Hans-Jochen Vogel was SPD candidate for chancellor in 1983. He was the first in a long line of Social Democrats who tried in vain to expel Helmut Kohl from the Chancellery. Vogel got 38.2 percent for the SPD.
The SPD chancellor candidate Johannes Rau stood in 1987 and received 37 percent of the vote – one of the few defeats in his more than 40-year political career. Here he speaks at an election rally in Rendsburg in 1986.
Oskar Lafontaine took on the thankless task of running against the "Chancellor of Unity" in the first all-German elections in 1990. He got 33.5 percent. The photo shows him during an election campaign appearance in Cologne-Mulheim. After the speech, he was stabbed by a woman.
Shirt-sleeved and close to the grass roots: The Federal Chairman and Chancellor candidate of the SPD, Rudolf Scharping, also courted the peace movement as a candidate for Chancellor in 1994. It was of no use: with 36.4 percent, the SPD remains in the opposition.
With a large-scale election campaign – the "Kampa" – Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Gerhard Schroder (right) succeeded in changing power in 1998. Schroder gets 40.9 percent and becomes Federal Chancellor. The Iraq war and the Elbe floods saved him from being re-elected in 2002 (38.5 percent). In 2005 he only got 34.2 percent and lost his position to Angela Merkel.
As foreign minister of the grand coalition, SPD chancellor candidate Frank-Walter Steinmeier cannot score strong enough against Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2009. Only 23 percent of voters vote for the SPD – the worst result in the post-war period.
Peer Steinbruck as Chancellor candidate of the SPD (09.12.2012)
Another challenger for Angela Merkel: Peer Steinbruck was supposed to judge it for the SPD in the 2013 federal election. Fractional leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier and party leader Sigmar Gabriel had previously waived the candidacy. The SPD increased slightly to 25.7 percent and formed a coalition with the Union (41.5 percent).
SPD chancellor candidate Martin Schulz
After much back and forth, Martin Schulz is now supposed to lead the SPD in this year’s election campaign after party chairman and Minister of Economics Sigmar Gabriel had declared that he would not run for chancellor. Schulz, previously President of the European Parliament, also takes over the party leadership of the SPD.