In October 1978, diverse members of the West Berlin Left founded the Alternative Liste für Demokratie und Umweltschutz (Alternative Ballot for Democracy and Environmental Protection, AL). This article examines the origins and evolution of the AL. Initially, the new political organization fundamentally opposed the parliamentary system. Within three years, however, the AL won a significant presence in the West Berlin Parliament, and in 1989, the party joined the Social Democrats in governing West Berlin. The AL’s parliamentary participation had a moderating, integrative effect on the party and its members. From the late 1970s through the end of the 1980s, a significant segment of the radical West German Left grew to accept parliamentary democracy, demonstrating the strength of the Federal Republic.
Keith D. Alexander is Assistant Professor of History and the George Washington Institute of Living Ethics Scholar at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. After graduating from Penn State University in 1992, Alexander worked in Washington, DC as an environmental policy analyst before returning to graduate school. He received his MA in 1996 and his PhD in 2003 in history from the University of Maryland, studying and doing dissertation research in Germany in 1996-1997 and 2000-2001. He worked at the German Historical Institute as a Research Associate from 2003 to 2005. He teaches classes in architectural history, Modern German and Modern European history, oral history, and historic preservation.