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Robert Gerald Livingston

Hannes Adomeit, Imperial Overstretch: Germany in Soviet Policy from Stalin to Gorbachev (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 1998 )

W.R. Smyser, From Yalta to Berlin: The Cold War Struggle over Germany (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999)

Angela E. Stent, Russia and Germany Reborn: Unification, The Soviet Collapse, and the New Europe (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton Uni- versity Press, 1999)

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Wolfgang Beck and Laurent J.G. van der Maesen

In this article we will focus on the political role of citizens in the ongoing process of European unification. The standard interpretations of unification suggest that this process is the outcome of a force of intrinsic necessity. Paving the way for the internal market, monetary and fiscal harmonisation should, therefore, lead to the formation of a political community. We do not accept such a post-Hegelian interpretation, however. This process is a consequence of chosen political priorities. In our opinion these should prioritise the development of political relations, referring to democratically based values in order to determine the starting points for economic, welfare and cultural policies. But, according to Fritz Scharpf, this has not been the case. The politics of the Union have paved the way for the free market system - mainly as a response to the principle of profit maximising - resulting in a decline, in the long run, of the politics with which to develop conditions for a political community.

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Protest Voting in Eastern Germany

Continuity and Change Across Three Decades

David F. Patton

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.

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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.

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Russell J. Dalton and Willy Jou

Few aspects of politics have been as variable as partisan politics in the two decades since German unification. In the East, citizens had to learn about democratic electoral politics and the party system from an almost completely fresh start. In the West, voters experienced a changing partisan landscape and the shifting policy positions of the established parties as they confronted the challenges of unification. This article raises the question of whether there is one party system or two in the Federal Republic. We first describe the voting results since 1990, and examine the evolving links between social milieu and the parties. Then we consider whether citizens are developing affective party ties that reflect the institutionalization of a party system and voter choice. Although there are broad similarities between electoral politics in West and East, the differences have not substantially narrowed in the past two decades.

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Katharina Bluhm

Research on the enterprise transformation in East Germany after unification has focused mostly on the role of the Treuhandanstalt as the central actor in this process who widely determined its outcomes. David Stark and László Bruszt (1998) even suggest that this top-down model of transformation was rooted in the special institutional past of East German state socialism. They argue that the “Weberian home-land” was characterized by weak social networks among firms in comparison, for example, with firms in Hungary or Czechoslovakia, while the planning system and the industrial organization were extraordinarily centralized and hierarchical. Hence, social networks could easily be destroyed after German unification by market shock and by breaking up large enterprises into manageable pieces by the Treuhandanstalt. Moreover, the former, intact centralized planning system could easily be replaced by another centralized and cohesive administrative apparatus, now backed by the strong West German state.

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Helga A. Welsh

German unification prompted expectations of harmonization in political culture and promises of equivalent living conditions across the federation. Almost three decades later, the revival of narratives based on East-West differences has raised concerns whether inner unity, a term coined to describe political and material convergence across the former East-West divide, has stagnated or fallen behind. Frustration with the process of unification based on East-West contrasts, however, tends to downplay achievements and, importantly, regional diversity across the federation. I advocate a shift in perspective to the subnational (Land and communal) levels and illustrate regional variation with examples that address equivalent living conditions and demographic change. North-South differences coexist with East-West and within-region differences, suggesting not two but four or five Germanies. The eastern regions still occupy a special place in the unified Germany; they contribute to agenda setting and policy making with important implications across the federation.

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Kimmo Elo

In mainstream analyses of the German political system, the emergence of the Left Party (Die Linke) is presented as an unexpected consequence of German unification and as an indication of the existence of an East-West divide. This view is for the most part based on the idea that German unification is a process of political integration of the East into the West. Such an understanding, however, downplays the long-term developments in the German party system. This article examines the emergence of the Left Party in light of both the long-term developmental tendencies of the German party system and findings from comparative studies among other West European countries. The article concludes that the main reason for the current political stalemate is the incapability of the postwar Volksparteien to respond to changes in political space and action. Based on evidence from comparative studies, the article also suggests a pragmatic rethinking especially in the SPD is necessary in dealings with the Left Party.

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Carol Hager

Environmental movements became a major vehicle for promoting citizen participation in both East and West Germany during the 1980s. Their critiques of industrial society, however, reflected the different constellations of power in their respective countries. Movements in both East and West formed green parties, but their disparate understandings of power, expertise, and democracy complicated the parties’ efforts to coalesce during the unification process and to play a major role in German politics after unification. I propose that the persistence of this East-West divide helps explain the continuing discrepancy in the appeal of Alliance 90/The Greens in the old and new German federal states. Nevertheless, I also suggest that the Greens have accomplished their goal of opening technical issue areas—particularly energy—to political debate. This is currently working to enhance their image throughout Germany as champions of technological innovation and democratic openness in the face of climate inaction and right-wing populism.

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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

methodological approaches.