Of the fifteen parties, only four, the CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP, and KPD, received licenses in all three zones thus enabling them to operate as national parties. Of the 12 partially licensed parties, three were granted licenses in only one zone (e.g. the BP, Zentrum, and NLP/DP) and five were licensed in only a single Land (e.g. WAV, BHE, SSV, RVP, RSVP) Three more parties received even more limited licenses or were banned (e.g. BHKP, NDP, DKP-DRP). Clearly, the French had the most restrictive licensing, restricting it to the four large parties and denying all other requests. (Rogers 1995, 122-24) The Americans and British occupation authorities were more liberal in their licensing. They tried to balance their desire to assist the CDU/CSU, SPD and FDP with their concern that silencing important social groups would unduly radicalize them or drive them underground. Strikingly enough, party licenses were only denied to right of center parties and not a single leftist party which partly reflects organizational continuity of the two camps after 1945. The SPD and KPD were direct successors from the Weimar Republic as their leaders returned from exile. The center and the right, by contrast, had to start form zero. Their Weimar predecessors were weak notable parties that had been eviscerated by the Great Depression and then permanently discredited by their collaboration with the Nazis.
Party licensing dramatically reduced the ENEC heading into the founding election, leading the CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP and KPD winning 77.8% of the votes. It did so in three ways. First, the four fully licensed parties were the most successful in linking their organizations across levels of government and districts, making them the only genuinely national parties. As a result, they contested virtually every SMD district in 1949 and field lists in all eleven MMD districts. The other parties participated in far fewer electoral contests; the RSF fielded lists in five Länder, the DP and the DKP-DRP in four, the DZP in three, BP and WAV in one. Second, the fully licensed parties to participate in all the 14 Länder elections held before 1949, the only partially licensed parties, by contrast, ran in no more than two Länder elections. This extensive participation in Länder elections gave the four fully licensed an important reputational advantage going into the 1949 election. Third, the fully licensed parties attracted more experienced and, presumably also, more skilled politicians. In the first Bundestag, 18.4% of CDU/CSU deputies sat in one of the previous Länder assemblies, 20.1% of SPD deputies and 17.6% of