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Konrad H. Jarausch

Perhaps two generations after the modest beginning, the FRG's successes and failures have become amenable to a more balanced evaluation. From the vantage point of the "Berlin Republic," the key question has shifted from whether the second German democracy would survive at all, to the reasons for its relatively positive course and to the extent of its lingering problems. This chapter first delves into the emergence of popular myths that characterized the Federal Republic's difficult search for identity. Secondly, it takes a look at some of the West's actual accomplishments in problem-solving, because such a comparison helps explain the eventual collapse of the East. Finally, it scrutinizes several of the competing explanations so as to reveal their political agendas and discuss their analytical limitations. Instead of presenting a simple success story, this reflection therefore strives for a critical appreciation. The paper concludes that at sixty, the FRG has entered a comfortable middle age, leaving be hind some of its earlier drama, but exuding a sense of competent normalcy. The mythical challenges of postwar reconstruction and recovery of international respectability have receded, followed instead by everyday concerns that are much less exhilarating. There are still plenty of problems, ranging from an aging population to a lack of full-day childcare, but they are shared by other advanced industrial societies. Moreover, after a century of first arrogant and then dejected difference, the German Sonderweg has finally come to an end. As a result of the meltdown of the Anglo-American version of unrestrained capitalism, the German model of a socially responsive market economy has even regained some of its prior luster. Hence, the postwar record of cautious incrementalism inspires some confidence that the Germans will also manage to meet the unforeseen political and economic challenges of the future.

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Stephen Milder and Konrad H. Jarausch

The September 2013 Bundestag election, which reelected Angela Merkel

as chancellor, was a clear defeat for the Green Party. Alliance 90/The

Greens (henceforth the Greens) fared far better than the Free Democratic

Party (FDP), which failed even to score the five percent of the vote required

for representation in parliament, but still fell from 10.7 percent to 8.4 percent,

losing five of their sixty-eight seats in parliament. Since in March of

that same year, surveys had shown their support at 17 percent, this disappointing

result forced Jürgen Trittin, the leader of the parliamentary delegation

to step down.1 In many ways, this perceived electoral debacle marked

the end of an era. The former Federal Minister of the Envi ron ment, who

had originally joined the party in 1980, told reporters that “a new generation” would have to step forward and lead the party into the 2017

campaign. This statement suggested not only that the Greens’ rebellious

founding impulse was spent, but also that they had become part of the

establishment in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), now requiring a

reinvigoration of their own. Since the Greens were once expected to be little

more than a short-lived byproduct of the social conflicts of the 1970s, a

closer look at the party’s founding moment at the beginning of the 1980s

might shed new light on its current predicament.