Spatial Patterns of Thermidor

Protest and Voting in East Germany’s Revolution, 1989-1990

in German Politics and Society
Restricted access

Abstract

This article engages in a spatial analysis of the link between protest and voting during the Wende, East Germany’s revolution of 1989. Are the same places that protested more also the places that decided the revolution’s fate by supporting CDU’s ticket of quick reunification? The revolution is approached through the conceptual metaphor of Thermidor, a conservative backlash to the revolution’s initial radical impulse. Spatial methods are used to investigate the local-level relationships between protest and voting. The article finds a weak link between protest and voting, which suggests that something akin to Thermidor occurred in East Germany. While certain towns initiated the revolution with their protests, other localities stepped in at a later stage and finished the revolution by voting for reunification, the revolution’s main outcome. The article pays special attention to the divide between East Germany’s north (Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania) and south (Saxony and Thuringia).

Contributor Notes

Marko Grdešić is an assistant at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia. He has an MA degree in political science from Central European University in Budapest and a PhD degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin Madison. His interests include social movements, political sociology, and political economy, with special emphasis on Eastern Europe in the late socialist period.