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Ingolfur Blühdorn

“Liquid modernity” is a concept that Zygmunt Bauman suggested to

describe a certain condition in advanced modern societies where changeability,

unpredictability, and unreliability have become core features

determining individual life and social interaction.1 Diminishing party loyalty

and increasing voter volatility, erratic but often vociferous articulation

of political preferences and participation, and a marked shift towards populism

all belong to the political fallout from Bauman’s condition of liquidity.

With his notion of the “fluid five-party system,” Oskar Niedermayer has

further developed the metaphor.2 On the one hand, his concept attempts

to capture the new structural characteristics of the German party system,

i.e., its fragmentation and structural asymmetry. On the other hand, it

seeks to capture the changed relationship between the individual parties,

specifically their mutual demarcation and rapprochement in the context of

coalition strategies. Indeed, having to compete in a five-party system and

trying to optimize their strategic position in a context of high unpredictability

is the major new challenge Germany’s political parties are having

to confront.

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Gerard Braunthal

The German Social Democratic Party (SPD) celebrated its 140 years

of existence on 23 May 2003 with the appropriate fanfare in Berlin.

Not too many other political parties in the world can match this survival

record, especially given the hostility of Chancellor Bismarck,

who in 1878 outlawed the fledgling party as an organization for

twelve years, and of Adolf Hitler, who in 1933 drove the party into

exile for twelve years. During the post-World War II era, the SPD

reestablished itself as a major party and shared in governing the

country from 1966 to 1982 and again from 1998 to the present. It

has left an imprint on the country’s domestic and foreign policies.

But in the twenty-first century’s initial years, the SPD, despite being

in power, is facing serious problems of maintaining membership and

electoral support.

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John Bendix and Niklaus Steiner

Although political asylum has been at the forefront of contemporary

German politics for over two decades, it has not been much discussed

in political science. Studying asylum is important, however,

because it challenges assertions in both comparative politics and

international relations that national interest drives decision-making.

Political parties use national interest arguments to justify claims that

only their agenda is best for the country, and governments argue

similarly when questions about corporatist bargaining practices arise.

More theoretically, realists in international relations have posited

that because some values “are preferable to others … it is possible to

discover, cumulate, and objectify a single national interest.” While

initially associated with Hans Morgenthau’s equating of national

interest to power, particularly in foreign policy, this position has

since been extended to argue that states can be seen as unitary rational

actors who carefully calculate the costs of alternative courses of

action in their efforts to maximize expected utility.

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Michaela Richter

In October 1998 the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens1

formed a coalition government, the first ever between these parties at

the federal level. In more ways than one, this new coalition marked a

watershed in Germany’s post-1945 development. Since 1945, Germany

had been a democracy in which political parties hold an especially

privileged position. This “party-state” has operated almost

exclusively through the three major “Bonn” parties, which for nearly

a half-century had governed through shifting coalitions. The Greens

arose as a social movement challenging this hegemony; yet, only fifteen

years after they first entered the Bundestag, they forged a federal

coalition with one of the established parties they had once attacked.

For the first time since 1957, a coalition had been formed that

involved not only a party other than the three “Bonn” parties but also

one not linked to the Federal Republic’s creation. It was, furthermore,

the first coalition ever to have resulted unambiguously from

the wishes of voters.

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Martin Thomas

Focusing on the gendarmerie forces of the three French Maghreb territories, this article explores the relationships between paramilitary policing, the collection of political intelligence, and the form and scale of collective violence in the French Empire between the wars, and considers what, if anything, was specifically colonial about these phenomena. I also assess the changing priorities in political policing as France's North African territories became more unstable and violent during the Depression. The gendarmeries were overstretched, under-resourced, and poorly integrated into the societies they monitored. With the creation of dedicated riot control units, intelligenceled political policing of rural communities and the agricultural economy fell away. By 1939 the North African gendarmeries knew more about organized trade unions, political parties, and other oppositional groups in the Maghreb's major towns, but they knew far less about what really drove mass protest and political violence: access to food, economic prosperity, rural markets, and labor conditions.

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“Flattering the Little Sleeping Rooster”

The French Left, de Gaulle, and the Vietnam War in 1965

Bethany S. Keenan

This article examines conflicts concerning French policy on the American phase of the Vietnam War between the French Left and Charles de Gaulle during the 1965 elections. The Left faced a dilemma on a matter of central foreign policy as it found it difficult to differentiate its position on the war from de Gaulle's public statements on it. Through an evaluation of press commentary, I demonstrate that in its attempt to set itself apart from de Gaulle, the French Left challenged not only his interpretation of the war in Vietnam but also his understanding of France and its role in the world, proffering a softer, cooperative conception in opposition to de Gaulle's push for a militant leadership status for France in the international community. The study shows the limits political parties face as part of protest movements, while also situating French debate over the Vietnam War squarely within the ongoing dialogue over French national identity.

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Participation without Deliberation

The Crisis of Venezuelan Democracy

Nicole Curato

The legacy of Hugo Chavez is contentious. Some lament the deterioration of Venezuelan democracy from one of Latin America's most stable political systems to a populist authoritarian regime. Others celebrate Chavez's participatory project of institutionalizing structures for community-driven development, redistributing oil wealth through welfare policies, and creating a political party closely linked to mass movements. This article provides an alternative assessment of Venezuela's democratic quality by drawing on deliberative democratic theory. I argue that Chavez's participatory project is incomplete because it fails to create structures for deliberative politics. Without these mechanisms, Venezuela remains vulnerable to crises brought about by “uncivil action,” such as military coups and violent protests, making deliberation an important component in averting crises in democratizing polities.

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The 1956 Strike of Middle-Class Professionals

A Socio-political Alliance with the Right

Avi Bareli and Uri Cohen

abstract

This article assumes, first, that during the 1950s the government, the trade union Histadrut, and the political party Mapai situated themselves in an intermediate position between the Ashkenazi public and the recently arrived Mizrahi immigrants. Second, it assumes that the right and center-right public forces, such as the General Zionist and Herut parties, and the influential liberal-oriented newspaper Ha’aretz played key roles in the evolution of ethnic relations during this period and impacted the political orientation of the Ashkenazi middle class. It examines these assumptions by considering the part played by the right, the center-right, and the Mapai government during a prolonged conflict between the Ashkenazi academic middle class and the government during the mid-1950s. This dispute centered on the appropriate extent of the wage gaps set between the salaries of the new Ashkenazi academic middle class and those of the new Mizrahi proletariat.

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Daniel Hough

In the years since unification, Germany’s political parties have faced

a number of formidable challenges. They range from incorporating

the citizens of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) into the Federal

Republic’s political processes, reassessing Germany’s role in the

wider world, overcoming gridlock on many pressing policy questions

at home (perhaps best understood as the overcoming of the Reformstau),

to finding a way out of Germany’s much maligned economic

malaise.1 Such challenges have had a not inconsiderable effect on the

German party system, the end product of which has been that this

system, once a bastion of cast-iron stability, has become characterized

by diversity and genuine electoral competition in a way that it has

not been since the late 1950s. Therefore, the electoral position of the

much-vaunted Volksparteien, if perhaps not their control of the political

process, has slipped considerably.

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Andreas M. Wüst

This article is about immigrant-origin politicians running for a Bundestag mandate in the 2013 election. Patterns of candidacy, electoral success and failure of the respective candidates and parliamentarians are systematically analyzed. The main finding is that politicians of immigrant origin are serious contenders for seats in the Bundestag, and political parties seem to have quite some interest in their election. It is increasingly the second immigrant generation that is involved politically, and, as the career patterns indicate, it is likely that many of them are going to stay longer in politics. Consequently, a closer look at immigrant-origin candidates and parliamentarians is of merit for both the study of parliamentary representation and of the political integration of immigrants and their descendants.