Toeing the Line: Institutional Rules, Elites, and Party Discipline in Post-Wall Berlin

in German Politics and Society
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  • 1 University of Miami
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The fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Bloc provided students of Germany and eastern Europe with unprecedented opportunities to investigate the attitudes and values of those socialized under communism. Extensive mass and elite opinion studies have documented that after decades of rule by an all-encompassing political party imposing iron discipline, eastern Europeans distrust political parties as well as party discipline. Students of eastern Germany have found similar patterns, both at the mass and elite levels. Eastern German politicians and their voters clearly are skeptical of strict party discipline and united in their belief that common interests should outweigh partisan concerns when legislation is made. These attitudes differ sharply from western German opinion, which is more supportive of both parties as a whole and party discipline in particular.