Inner Unity and Regional Diversity in Unified Germany

in German Politics and Society
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  • 1 Wake Forest University
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German unification prompted expectations of harmonization in political culture and promises of equivalent living conditions across the federation. Almost three decades later, the revival of narratives based on East-West differences has raised concerns whether inner unity, a term coined to describe political and material convergence across the former East-West divide, has stagnated or fallen behind. Frustration with the process of unification based on East-West contrasts, however, tends to downplay achievements and, importantly, regional diversity across the federation. I advocate a shift in perspective to the subnational (Land and communal) levels and illustrate regional variation with examples that address equivalent living conditions and demographic change. North-South differences coexist with East-West and within-region differences, suggesting not two but four or five Germanies. The eastern regions still occupy a special place in the unified Germany; they contribute to agenda setting and policy making with important implications across the federation.

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