1963 – 1966
Federal Chancellor Ludwig Erhard
Against the will and vote of Adenauer, the CDU/CSU Bundestag faction nominated Ludwig Erhard as a candidate for the chancellorship in April 1963. After Adenauer’s resignation in October, he became Federal Chancellor. Erhard's policy making was characterized by mediation and achieving common grounds of common understanding. He was oriented more strongly toward the alliance with the USA than a partnership with French president de Gaulles.
Konrad Adenauer remained his opponent within the party, joined by other CDU politicians who pressed forward to criticize his cooperative leadership behind the scenes. Despite a large, nationwide electoral success of the CDU/CSU in 1965 missing out closely on an absolute majority and his re-election as Federal Chancellor, Erhard succeeded increasingly less to assert his course. Nevertheless, he was still elected Chairman of the CDU in 1966. As a result of an emerging recession, the CDU subsequently suffered serious losses at a number of regional state elections. Erhard’s reputation as an economic expert appeared to be tarnished. In October 1966, the secretaries of the coalition partner Free Democratic Party (FDP) in Erhard's cabinet, led by Walter Scheel, resigned in protest against a planned tax rise. For a few weeks, Erhard acted as Chancellor of a minority cabinet.
The CDU/CSU Bundestag faction nominated Kurt Georg Kiesinger as a candidate for the chancellorship. On 1 December 1966, Ludwig Erhard resigned as Federal Chancellor, and in 1967, as Chairman of the CDU. In both offices, his successor was Kiesinger, who governed in a coalition with the SPD, the first grand coalition in the history of the Federal Republic.