The modernization of the public administration has been one of the main objectives pursued by the Renzi government. What distinguishes the reform cycle launched in 2015 is the emphasis on centralization, unification, and the reduction of institutional fragmentation in the public sector after a long period in which autonomy and the organizational pluralism of administrations and government levels were enhanced. This reform strategy is consistent with the underlying trends of transformation in the political and institutional systems, in which the power of the prime minister has gradually increased. The actual impact of these reform measures, however, depends on concrete organizational instruments of subsequent implementing legislation in a context characterized by persistent spending cuts, which are necessary to maintain financial stability.
Fabrizio Di Mascio and Alessandro Natalini
‘Tis the season of anniversaries in Germany. 2009 unfolded like a hit
parade of history. March ushered in the sixtieth anniversary of the founding
of the Federal Republic and May witnessed the sixtieth anniversary of
the end of the Berlin Blockade. After a summer lull, the seventieth
anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland fell on 1 September
and in October, the twentieth anniversary of the first Monday demonstration
in Leipzig took place. Finally, the month of November offered up a
major date—the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall—and a
lesser one, suited more for the political connoisseur: the fortieth anniversary
of the Social Democratic Party’s (SPD) ratification of the Godesberger
Program. 2010, of course, culminates in October with the twentieth
anniversary of unification.
Jutta A. Helm
For more than a century, Germany has had a well-balanced system
of cities showcasing considerable variety in their social and physical
make-up. It has lacked spectacular global cities like New York,
Tokyo, or London. Instead, western cities include industrial cities
like those in the Rhine-Ruhr Valley and cities shaped by universities
and research (Göttingen or Freiburg), media and publishing (Hamburg),
culture and high-technology sectors (Munich), banking and
finance (Frankfurt/Main), wholesale trade and insurance (Cologne
and Düsseldorf), as well as government and administration (Berlin,
Bonn, and most state capitals). Dramatic social or economic crises
that generate debates about urban decline have not happened.
Thanks in part to effective urban governments, no German city has
come close to the near-collapse of American rustbelt cities during
the early 1980s, or the fiscal meltdown of New York City in the
1970s. Crime has been consistently lower and less violent, and the
American racial divide has no equivalent in German cities. East German
cities, while more unevenly developed, have been no less stable.
East Berlin was the dominant center, linked to the industrial
cities in the North (Rostock) and South (Leipzig, Halle, Dresden) by
a rather creaky infrastructure.
The Thirtieth Anniversary of The Fall of the Berlin Wall and Unification
It sometimes seems that Germany is a country perpetually caught in the past. There are so many anniversaries that some sort of tracker is necessary to remember them all. Commemorations in 2019 included the seventieth anniversaries of the foundation of the Federal Republic and the formation of the NATO alliance, the eightieth anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, the 100th anniversaries of the Treaty of Versailles, the foundation of the Weimar Republic, and German women achieving the right to vote. In 2020, important commemorations include the seventy-fifth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the 250th anniversaries of Beethoven’s and Hegel’s birth, as well as the 100th anniversary of the HARIBO company that invented gummi bears.
The year 2005 marks the fifteenth anniversary of unification, and over the course of the next several issues, German Politics and Society will showcase this topic whenever possible.
The current issue of German Politics and Society begins with Rainer
Baumann’s insightful article, “The Transformation of German Multilateralism:
Changes in Foreign Policy Discourse since Unification.”
John Foot and Samantha Owen
On 17 March 2011, Italy celebrated its 150th anniversary. On that day
in 1861, Victor Emmanuel II had become the first king of Italy. This
date, however, marked only a formal moment of annexation. It was not
a day of revolution but instead a bureaucratic (albeit highly symbolic)
political unification. The date 17 March was designated as a national
holiday on a one-off basis in 2011, and on that day flags were raised
across Italy to celebrate the nation’s 150th birthday. The central event
took place at a parliamentary session where the two houses heard a
speech delivered by President Giorgio Napolitano. Official celebrations
were also planned for many key places linked to the history
of the unification process and Italy in general.
This theme issue of German Politics and Society, “Eastern Germany
Ten Years After Unification,” presents five key papers first presented
at a conference organized by Thomas Ertman at the Center for European
Studies at Harvard University in June 1999. We are pleased to
present this reworked collection of articles that, under Ertman’s able
direction, speaks to the central concerns of the former East Germany’s
integration into the new Federal Republic. Ertman’s introduction
contextualizes these articles in terms of their thematic content and
Joanne Sayner, Isabelle Hertner, and Sarah Colvin
Anniversaries provide moments for taking stock. In the wake of the so-called Supergedenkjahr of 2014—the year of numerous significant commemorative events for Germany, including the fall of the Berlin Wall and of German unification—it seems particularly timely to engage with debates about what it means to be German. Such retrospection is now an established and widespread part of the German habitus, and the number of organized moments of contemplation—moments that say as much about the present as the past—has multiplied since unification. Within Germany and beyond, the question of what it means to be German is frequently being asked by those who want to define local, national and international agendas for the future and to redefine agendas of the past. Representing an individual, a community or a nation involves the construction of narratives and identities, a process now often informed by sophisticated understandings of image and audience, of beliefs and branding. In fact, the numerous facets that make up an image of “Germany” have, for the most part, been perceived affirmatively; in recent international polls Germany has been the country seen as most likely to have an overwhelmingly positive influence on the world.
With this issue, AJEC returns to its original format as a journal with, for the time being, two issues per year. When the first issue was published in 1990 by the European Centre for Traditional and Regional Cultures (ECTARC), Europe was a different place. As the director of ECTARC, Franz-Josef Stummann (1990: 7), explained in his introduction to that issue, the ‘magical date of 1992’, heralding the Single European Market as a significant step towards European integration, had ‘a substantial bearing’ on the foundation of the journal. Moreover, the Berlin Wall, symbol of the political divide that cut right through Cold War Europe, had crumbled the previous year. German unification was imminent, but very little else seemed predictable. Eighteen years and two Gulf Wars later, not only has the European Union acquired fifteen new member states, ten of them former Communist countries, but we have also been told to perceive a new divide – between a ‘new’ Europe and an ‘old’ one.