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From the Eternal Grand Coalition to the Traffic Light Alliance

The German Party System before and after the 2021 Federal Election

Frank Decker and Philipp Adorf

Abstract

The first German election without Angela Merkel as a candidate in over one and a half decades would turn out to be one of the most unpredictable in the history of the Federal Republic. For most of the election year, a conservative-Green alliance appeared the most likely outcome, potentially even with a Green chancellor at its head. However, the final months of campaigning showcased the volatility of the increasingly fragmented party system and the relevance that candidate selection and external events can have on political majorities. Having been stuck in third place for about three years, the spd's well-organized campaign managed to complete a remarkable victory, allowing the Social Democrats to come in first for just the third time in close to half a century. Transcending traditional ideological divides, Olaf Scholz's subsequent three-party “traffic light” alliance serves to perfectly reflect the changes that Germany's party system has undergone since reunification.

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Introduction

France in the Age of Covid-19

Éric Touya de Marenne

What does Covid-19 reveal about France today? What are its effects on culture, politics, and society? One of the contentions of this special issue is that measuring its impacts takes on full significance when approached in the context of other crises that have affected the nation in recent years. These include growing inequality and social and political division, and the rise of populism. This special issue examines how these existing predicaments shed light on the impact of Covid-19. It also seeks to explore ways through which we may give meaning to this tragic moment in French history through art and the public humanities.

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Introduction

A Zeitenwende Indeed

Eric Langenbacher

With Vladimir Putin's brutal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the new coalition government's resulting reorientation of German foreign and security policy—an epochal shift that jettisoned 30, even 50 years of policy—the world immediately changed. The consequences and spillover effects of this paradigm shift or Zeitenwende will take years to become truly apparent and will rightfully seize the attention of academics, pundits, and policy analysts. Nevertheless, we should also not neglect other events from the recent past, namely, the most important election in the world in 2021. The September election for the German Bundestag was the most eventful, surprising, and momentous in that country for almost two decades, with an outcome that has already greatly affected Germany, Europe, and the world. It was also a novel election and outcome in several ways: it was the first election since 1953 without an incumbent chancellor running for re-election, and it resulted in the first three-party coalition government in over half a century.

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La question identitaire dans l'itinéraire de Présence Africaine

Etienne Lock

Abstract

This article examines the issue of identity as expressed in the historical journey of the intellectual movement Présence Africaine. It highlights a fundamental dimension of the commitment of that movement not yet explored in academic research. The current study uncovers the challenges and the great events that shaped the reputation of Présence Africaine as an African intellectual movement with a journal and a publishing house. It also deals with the identity issue through philosophical and theological debates as well as in reference to the independence era in Africa. The relevance of such a study is due to the topicality of the identity issue for contemporary societies.

Résumé

Cet article est une réflexion sur la question identitaire telle que portée et exprimée dans l'itinéraire historique du mouvement Présence Africaine. Il met en exergue une dimension fondamentale, voire l'essence même de l'engagement de ce mouvement, jusqu'ici non explorée. Tout en faisant redécouvrir les défis et de grands événements qui ont fait la notoriété de Présence Africaine soutenue par une revue et une maison d'édition, cette réflexion s'articule aussi autour des débats philosophiques et théologiques au sein de ce mouvement, et se déploie par ailleurs en référence aux indépendances africaines. L'opportunité d'une telle réflexion s'explique par le fait que la question identitaire reste un enjeu important pour les sociétés contemporaines.

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The Leftist “Imagined Community”

The Transnational Imagination of Left-Wing Subversive Organizations in Western Europe

Mikuláš Pešta

Abstract

This article concerns radical leftist subversive organizations in Western Europe in the 1970s and 1980s and their transnational shared imagination. It shows that despite the scarcity of direct contacts, there existed a sense of belonging to the same transnational current, the “imagined community.” On selected criteria (Images – Semantics – Practice), the article provides analysis of the shared tropes in self-perception and in the communication. The patterns were shared among the Western European subversive organizations but also imported from the countries of the Global South. The article further presents the lack of effort of the subversive organizations to create their own mark and graphic identity, whether consciously or not, to become a part of the “global anti-imperialist front.” It puts into question the utility of the traditional categorization of subversive organizations and discusses the use of the term “terrorism” regarding its self-perception and global context.

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Les historiens et leurs ombres

le passé à la première personne du présent

Nathan Bracher

Résumé

L'historien, en tant que sujet, est lié non seulement à son passé familial mais aussi à ses connaissances. L'histoire méthodique prétendait, au début, proscrire toute subjectivité, mettant l'historien à l'écart des recherches et de l'écriture. Or les événements et l'évolution historiographiques ont rendu caduque cette posture scientiste. Ce vingt-et-unième siècle voit les historiens s'impliquer ostensiblement dans leurs ouvrages. C'est le cas notamment avec Quelle histoire: Un récit de filiation (1914–2014) de l'éminent historien de la Grande Guerre, Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau. Nous verrons qu'un retour sur le choc de la guerre vécu par son grand-père paternel Robert Audoin permet de comprendre l'impact effroyable mais longtemps insoupçonné que celle-ci a eu sur le reste de sa vie ainsi que sur celle de Philippe Audoin, père de l'historien. La perspective ainsi découverte jette une lumière nouvelle sur le calvaire invisible vécu par d'innombrables véterans, mais aussi sur l'orientation des recherches de Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau.

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The Paris Opera Ballet Dancing Offstage

Work, Grace, and Race

Tessa Ashlin Nunn

Abstract

The spaces in which amateur and professional dancers practiced their art greatly changed during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the closures of theaters and dance studios, yet dance continued to bring people together online. This article studies the media presence of the Paris Opera Ballet (POB) between March 2020 and May 2021 to analyze how the aesthetic and moral concept of grace has evolved. During this difficult year, dance took on a therapeutic role as POB dancers offered free online classes and performed in video work, in addition to taking on a political role as discussions about racism in ballet sparked public debates.

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Pathways to the Chancellorship

The Making of Chancellor Scholz in Perspective

Ludger Helms

Abstract

Olaf Scholz emerged as the Federal Republic's ninth chancellor from a context marked by several “firsts,” including in particular the absence of an incumbent chancellor seeking re-election and a competition between three chancellor candidates. While few, if any, individual elements of Scholz's profile were exceptional, the combination of elements was as unique as the wider political context. Echoing similar experiences from the Merkel years, the 2021 campaign and results suggest that in the German political context, advanced levels of personalization in the electoral arena are not dependent on any particular charisma of the competing lead candidates. In the end, Scholz, who managed to portray himself as a de facto incumbent seeking re-election, profited strongly from the perceived limitations and deficiencies of his contenders. A historical assessment of competitions for the chancellorship also reveals that the stakes for unsuccessful chancellor candidates have risen dramatically.

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Political Ramifications of Covid-19

Inequalities, Divides, Populism

Éric Touya de Marenne

Abstract

The article examines how the current Covid-19 crisis in France crosses into existing socio-economic, political, and existential crises faced by the nation in recent years. It considers the pandemic's impact in the context of the criticism that the French government response provoked in opposition parties regarding its preparedness and strategies. Beyond the multiple budget cuts that have affected the health-care system in France in recent years, and significantly lessen, according to critiques, the country's ability to tackle Covid-19, a growing number of French people link the failure of their government and the rise of violence in society to France's growing dependence on the EU and the decline of French sovereignty in a globalized world. The pandemic's impact is measured through the prism of the current socio-economic crisis, triggered by months of confinements and curfews; the rise of unemployment and populism; and what it could mean for the future of democracy.

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The Quest for Gender Parity

Angela Merkel and the Diversification of Electoral Politics in Germany

Joyce Marie Mushaben

Abstract

Given Angela Merkel's long-standing reluctance to label herself a feminist, many scholars would find it hard to credit her with the increasingly “intersectional” composition of the Bundestag and the Landtage as of the 2021 elections. The last 16 years have nonetheless witnessed major shifts in German policies affecting the rights of women, persons with migration background, and lgbtqia community members. These developments have arguably contributed, directly and indirectly, to voters’ willingness to accept candidates with diverse backgrounds as capable of representing “the people's interests” beyond the needs of their respective identity groups. This article considers multiple factors contributing to increasing diversity among German lawmakers at various levels, including policy shifts that have helped to reconfigure the political opportunity structure and thus the electoral landscape. It concludes with reflections on Merkel's legacy, coupled with the role of generational change in “normalizing” diversity across the Berlin Republic.