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Anne Sa'adah

On March 11, 1999, Oskar Lafontaine stunned the Social Democratic

Party by resigning all his public positions: he stepped down as

Minister of Finance, chair of the SPD, and member of the Bundestag,

summoned his car, and headed for the Saarland. Lafontaine

seemed somehow to have believed that he would be able to operate

alongside Gerhard Schröder as a kind of co-chancellor; Schröder,

predictably, preferred other arrangements. In the postelection

euphoria of September 1998, the two rivals, whose cooperation had

been essential to the social democratic victory, acknowledged their

mutual dependence and pledged their continued “friendship.” In the

year and a half that followed, they clashed constantly: on policy, on

politics, on appointments.

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Anne Sa'adah

Even as the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall was being celebrated, a scandal was beginning that seems destined to bring the Kohl era, however it is defined, to a close. My purpose in this article is to propose a framework for thinking about the broader political meaning and possible impact of the CDU’s difficulties. In this instance as in many others, I will argue, events in the Federal Republic are best understood if approached simultaneously from two angles. On the one hand, Germany remains bound to, if not necessarily by, its multiple experiences of dictatorship. Viewed in this context, events acquire meaning and significance as part of an ongoing process of democratization, or of an effort to “master” a past to some degree enduringly unmasterable. On the other hand, a half-century after its creation, the Federal Republic is an established democracy with a remarkable record of success and a predictable roster of problems. From this perspective, developments in Germany illustrate dilemmas and dysfunctions common across the advanced industrial democracies.

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After the Party

Trump, Le Pen, and the New Normal

Anne Sa’adah

Abstract

Donald Trump’s surprise victory and the National Front’s steady electoral gains are not the simple product of globalization and its discontents, nor are they a direct continuation of earlier populist movements in the US and France. Rather, both rest in significant degree on transformative political projects undertaken in recent decades to recast partisan politics in each country. Newt Gingrich adopted a radical strategy in order to break Democratic dominance in Congress, destroying norms of parliamentary conduct, pushing the Republican Party to the right, and roiling the party’s base. Bruno Mégret sought to position the National Front—through a dédiabolisation of its public image, an increase in its institutional capacity, attention to local politics, and opportunistic alliances—in such a way as to allow it to supplant the traditional conservative parties. These strategies changed the political landscape in the US and France. The results are likely to be durable.

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M. Anne Sa'adah

Joschka Fischer (b. 1948), Germany’s foreign minister and for several

years one of the country’s most popular politicians, is a man of

the moment, of consequence both domestically and beyond his

country’s borders. Nationally prominent as leader of the “realo” faction

of the Greens, he was instrumental in turning a protest movement

into the partner in power of the Social Democratic Party

(SPD). During the Kosovo crisis, he was a key figure in securing

German participation in the NATO intervention. He has played an

influential role in the unfolding debate about institutional reform

within the European Union. During the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian

violence, he has actively tried to bring the parties to the table.