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Continuing Formalization of Coalition Formation with a New “Sound”

Negotiating the Coalition Contract after the 2021 Bundestag Election

Sven T. Siefken

Getting a new government together in Germany requires building a coalition. The process for doing so has evolved, becoming more institutionalized but remaining part of informal politics. Looking closely at the coalition building in 2021 shows that its organizational structure was vertically slimmer and horizontally more differentiated than in previous years. The role of parliamentary actors was more pronounced than before, and parliamentary organization was mirrored throughout it. Yet the strong inclusion of the Länder (party) perspectives prevailed, making coalition building a multi-level task. While the process in 2021 had more procedural transparency than before, its content remained largely out of public sight. At defined steps, party approval was gathered through formal votes. Whether the established account of better personal trust among the involved partners is more than a nice narrative remains to be seen in the analysis of the coalition’s governing practice.

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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

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

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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Pathways to the Chancellorship

The Making of Chancellor Scholz in Perspective

Ludger Helms

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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The Quest for Gender Parity

Angela Merkel and the Diversification of Electoral Politics in Germany

Joyce Marie Mushaben

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.

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A Tale of Two Electorates?

The 2021 Federal Election and the AfD Voter in East and West

Michael A. Hansen and Jonathan Olsen

Although the AfD is not, strictly speaking, an “eastern” party, its distinct electoral results in the two halves of Germany—underscored once again in the 2021 federal election—are something of a puzzle. In order to explain how and why the AfD performs better in eastern Germany than in western Germany, we analyze district-level results for the AfD vote, employing multiple regression models in order to find correlates with constituency vote share. We conclude that the only socio-demographic variable common to both eastern and western German AfD voters is their level of education. Significantly, we find that eastern AfD voters are both older and more economically secure than western German voters for the AfD.

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Klaus Neumann

Abstract

Following the surge of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd's murder on 25 May 2020, memorials in remembrance of individuals implicated in colonialism or slavery have come under increasing attack. This article discusses and contextualizes challenges in 2020 to the memorialization of Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898) and Emily Ruete née Salama bint Said (1844–1924) in Hamburg, where the legacy of the German colonial past is particularly palpable. The article argues that proposed solutions—be it the demolition of the city's main Bismarck monument, its restoration and the erection of a counter-memorial adjacent to it, or the un-naming of a street named after Ruete—potentially erase the complexities and contradictions of the lives of historical actors, are often informed by a desire to quarantine the past, and, just as often, fail to engage with its continuation in the present.

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Madeline Woker, Caroline Ford, and Jonathan Gosnell

Owen White, The Blood of the Colony: Wine and the Rise and Fall of French Algeria (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020).

Andrea E. Duffy, Nomad’s Land: Pastoralism and French Environmental Policy in the Nineteenth-Century Mediterranean World (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2019).

Charlotte Ann Legg, The New White Race: Settler Colonialism and the Press in French Algeria, 1860–1914 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2021)

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Thomas Klikauer, Norman Simms, Marcus Colla, Nicolas Wittstock, Matthew Specter, Kate R. Stanton, John Bendix, and Bernd Schaefer

Heinrich Detering, Was heißt hier “wir”? Zur Rhetorik der parlamentarischen Rechten (Dietzingen: Reclam Press, 2019).

Clare Copley, Nazi Buildings: Cold War Traces and Governmentality in Post-Unification Berlin (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020).

Tobias Schulze-Cleven and Sidney A. Rothstein, eds., Imbalance: Germany's Political Economy after the Social Democratic Century (Abingdon: Routledge, 2021).

Benedikt Schoenborn, Reconciliation Road: Willy Brandt, Ostpolitik and the Quest for European Peace (New York: Berghahn Books, 2020).

Tiffany N. Florvil, Mobilizing Black Germany: Afro-German Women and the Making of a Transnational Movement (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2020).

Ingo Cornils, Beyond Tomorrow: German Science Fiction and Utopian Thought in the 20th and 21st Centuries (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2020).

Christian F. Ostermann, Between Containment and Rollback: The United States and the Cold War in Germany (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2021).

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A “Capital of Hope and Disappointments”

North African Families in Marseille Shantytowns and Social Housing

Dustin Alan Harris

This article traces the history of specialized social housing for North African families living in shantytowns in Marseille from the early 1950s to the mid-1970s. During the Algerian War, social housing assistance formed part of a welfare network that exclusively sought to “integrate” Algerian migrants into French society. Through shantytown clearance and rehousing initiatives, government officials and social service providers encouraged shantytown-dwelling Algerian families to adopt the customs of France’s majority White population. Following the Algerian War, France moved away from delivering Algerian-focused welfare and instead developed an expanded immigrant welfare network. Despite this shift, some officials and social service providers remained fixated on the presence and ethno-racial differences of Algerians and other North Africans in Marseille’s shantytowns. Into the mid-1970s, this fixation shaped local social assistance and produced discord between the promise and implementation of specialized social housing that hindered shantytown-dwelling North African families’ incorporation into French society.