In 1989-1990, peaceful protests shook the German Democratic Republic (GDR), ushered in unification, and provided a powerful narrative of people power that would shape protest movements for decades to come. This article surveys eastern German protest across three decades, exploring the interplay of protest voting, demonstrations, and protest parties since the Wende. It finds that protest voting in the east has had a significant political impact, benefiting and shaping parties on both the left and the right of the party spectrum. To understand this potential, it examines how economic and political factors, although changing, have continued to provide favorable conditions for political protest in the east. At particular junctures, waves of protest occurred in each of the three decades after unification, shaping the party landscape in Germany.
Continuity and Change Across Three Decades
David F. Patton
Rudy Koshar, From Monuments to Traces; Artifacts of German Memory 1870-1990 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000)
Rudy Koshar, German Travel Cultures (New York/Oxford: Berg, 2000)
Marc Morjé Howard
Carl F. Lankowski, ed., Breakdown, Breakup, Breakthrough: Germany’s Difficult Passage to Modernity (New York: Berghahn Books, 1999)
John Brady, Beverly Crawford, and Sarah Elise Wiliarty, eds., The Postwar Transformation of Germany: Democracy, Prosperity, and Nationhood (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999)
Christopher S. Allen, ed., Transformation of the German Political Party System: Institutional Crisis or Democratic Renewal? (New York: Berghahn Books, 1999)
Christopher S. Allen
Henry Farrell, The Political Economy of Trust: Institutions, Interests and Interfirm Cooperation in Italy and Germany (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
Jeremy Leaman, The Political Economy of Germany under Chancellors Kohl and Schroeder: Decline of the German Model? (New York: Berghahn, 2009)
Wolfgang Streeck, Re-Forming Capitalism: Institutional Change in the German Political Economy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009)
Michael Sutton, France and the Construction of Europe 1944–2007 (Oxford: Berghahn, 2007).
Tilo Schabert, How World Politics is Made: France and the Reunification of Germany, trans. John Tyler Tuttle (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2009).
Frédéric Bozo, Mitterrand, the End of the Cold War and German Unification, trans. Susan Emanuel (Oxford: Berghahn, 2009).
Germans are inordinately preoccupied with the question of national integration. From the Kulturkampf to the Weimar Republic to the separation of East and West, social fractiousness is deeply ingrained in German history, giving rise to a desire to unify the "incomplete nation." Yet, the impulse to integrate German society has long been ambivalent. Between Bismarck and the Nazi interregnum, top-down efforts to force Germans to integrate threatened to erase valued differences. The twentieth anniversary of German reunification is the occasion to assess the reality of and ambivalence towards social integration in contemporary Germany. A review of economic and social measures of East-West, immigrant, and Muslim integration provides many indications of progress. Nevertheless, social cleavages persist despite political integration. Indeed, in some aspects, including in the party system, fragmentation is greater now than it was two decades ago. Yet successful social integration is a two-way street, requiring newcomers and oldtimers to interact. Integration of the European Union to some extent has followed this German path, with subsidiarity ensuring a decentralized social model and limited cohesion. German ambivalence about social integration is a major reason for the continuing social fragmentation of the society.
On October 3, 1990 the territory of the German Democratic Republic was incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany, thereby ending forty-five years of German division. At the time, assessments varied widely about whether the wholesale introduction of the West German political, legal, and socioeconomic systems into the formerly communist east would be a success, and what the implications of success or failure would be for the new united Germany. Ten years later, opinions on these fundamental questions remain divided. One group of optimistic observers maintains that the full integration of the east into an enlarged Federal Republic is well underway, though these observers acknowledge that progress has been slower and more uneven than first anticipated. A more pessimistic assessment is provided by those who claim that, if the present pattern of development continues, the east will remain in a position of permanent structural weakness vis-à-vis the west in a way analogous to that of Italy’s Mezzogiorno.
German popular filmmakers who participated in the Denk ich an Deutschland series brought a range of conflicting impulses to their meditations on Germany, including the universalizing tendencies of popular culture, together with the personal and political strains often present in documentary films. With varying degrees of success, each director agitates national identity via an idiosyncratic selfhood, a process which in turn expands our notions of Germany beyond generic convention. The best of the five films discussed in this essay—directed by Doris Dörrie, Fatih Akin, Katja von Garnier, Sherry Hormann, and Klaus Lemke—feature their creators' struggle to box themselves out of a larger collective identity. By modeling their own existential Bildung, they chip away at an otherwise implacable German identity and provide a psychic service for Germans potentially more salutary than the way Hollywood films sustain American identity.
Dieter Gosewinkel, Einbürgern und Ausschließen. Die Nationalisierung der Staatsangehörigkeit vom Deutschen Bund bis zur Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2001)
Daniel Levy, Yfaat Weiss, ed., Challenging Ethnic Citizenship: German and Israeli Perspectives on Immigration (New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2002)
Barbara Marshall, The New Germany and Migration in Europe (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000)
Jan Motte, Rainer Ohliger, Anne von Oswald, ed., 50 Jahre Bundesrepublik – 50 Jahre Einwanderung: Nachkriegsgeschichte als Migrationsgeschichte (Frankfurt am Main/New York: Campus, 1999)
David Rock and Stefan Wolff, ed., Coming Home to Germany? The Integration of Ethnic Germans from Central and Eastern Europe in the Federal Republic since 1945 (New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2002)
Stefan Wolff, ed., German Minorities in Europe: Ethnic Identity and Cultural Belonging (New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2000)
Since German unification there have been dramatic and highly visible changes in the German financial system and relations between banks and firms in Germany. The traditional Hausbank system has weakened, as securities markets have become more important for both borrowers and savers. The demands of financial investors on how German firms manage themselves have—for better or worse—become increasingly influential in this time. In this article, I advance the thesis that bank-industry relations in Germany became increasingly differentiated, with one set of firms moving into an institutional environment readily characterized as market-based finance. Meanwhile, most German firms remain in a bank-based environment that, while not quite the same as the Hausbank model that prevailed at the time of unification, is still easily recognized as such. These changes in the financial system have had numerous consequences for the German economy, including increased pressure on firms to make greater profits and increased pressure on labor to limit wage gains and make concessions in the interest of corporate competitiveness.