On November 15, 1959, an extraordinary conference of the German Social Democratic Party adopted a new program, one which departed abruptly from the party's ninety-year tradition. One year later, on November 25, 1960, the party conference in regular session applauded the party's new team, a group of personable candidates headed by Willy Brandt. In the fall of 1961, this team, with Brandt as chancellor candidate, led the SPD in a campaign based on the most modern techniques, many copied frankly from the American presidential campaign of the previous year. This three-fold change of program, leadership, and style was unlike any other in the party's long evolution. I t was the culmination of a conscious effort to adapt the party to chang- ing times, an effort, in short, to modernize socialism. This development is of obvious interest to the observer of postwar West German politics. The SPD, oldest and formerly strongest of the German political parties, after 1949 became the second party in an essentially three-party system. As such it assumed the unhappy role of apparently perpetual opposition. Its escape from the role would depend to a large extent on the appeal of the new package offered the German voter. The success or failure of the party's effort of modern- ization would thus greatly affect the subsequent course of German politics.