The role of Konrad Adenauer in the proceedings of the Parliamentary Council in Bonn and his decision after his election as first federal chancellor not to form a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party paved the way to a fundamental transformation of the traditional German democratic paradigm versus the Anglo-Saxon concept of interaction between government and parliamentary opposition. The inherited pattern of constitutional democracy that had contributed to the structural weaknesses of Weimar parliamentarism was replaced by the concept of an interaction between government and opposition. Political parties took on the primary tasks of securing stable parliamentary majorities and providing sufficient electoral support for the chancellor. Adenauer's resolved political leadership, therefore, was an indispensable contribution to the reorientation of West German political culture from the former distrust of unrestricted parliamentary sovereignty toward Western democratic traditions.
In December 1989, the ruling communist party of East Germany,
the Socialist Unity Party (SED), was reconstituted when it adopted the
name Socialist Unity Party-Party of Democratic Socialism (SED-PDS),
which was simplified on 4 February 1990 to the Party of Democratic
Socialism.1 The brand of Marxism-Leninism that had prevailed in the
German Democratic Republic (GDR) appeared to be irredeemably
discredited, and the new leadership of this successor party was
obliged to create an alternative vision of socialism and to redefine
their political goals. The PDS program of 1990,2 with its clear adoption
of a feminist agenda, constituted a breach with the party’s political
past. Whereas the Marxist-Leninist theory underpinning SED
policy had been based on the principle that inequality is economically
determined, the new PDS program acknowledged patriarchy
as a separate issue.
This article deals with the political, programmatic, and organizational changes within the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) during the time of the second grand coalition (2005-present). For the CDU, the period of the grand coalition is a time of waiting concerning its organizational and programmatic reform processes. Thus, the election of 2009 will be crucial for the political development of the party—in respect to its political profile, as well as its strategic options within the political market.
Reflecting on his academic exile in the United States, the German
political scientist Franz L. Neumann emphasized the cross-fertilization
of ideas as a result of the confrontation of different scientific and
political cultures.1 According to Neumann, the migration of hundreds
of European academics to the United States led to a growing
internationalization of the social sciences and a two-way learning
process. The Europeans became accustomed to the practice of the
American liberal democracy and learned to value its political culture;
émigré scholars, on the other hand, brought with them a different
academic Denkstil and contributed to a more critical self-understanding
of American democratic theory.
After the first Bundestag elections in 1949, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) established itself as kingmaker either of the Christian Democrats or the Social Democrats. The entrance of the Green Party into the German Bundestag in 1983 brought about a significant change in the German political landscape, which challenged the German Liberals to redefine themselves. At present, it seems that the FDP is on its way back into the federal government after ten years of opposition, although "neoliberal" ideology is currently facing a severe international crisis. This constitutes a puzzling issue for political scientists, which is addressed in this article by analyzing the factors that can explain the German Liberal's latest success. Furthermore, the FDP's chances in comparison to the other two small parties (Left Party and Greens) are discussed. Finally, attention is focused on the characteristics of the FDP's election campaign and its coalition options for 2009 and beyond.
In the ongoing debate on immigrant integration policies, the Sinus study on migrant milieus has attracted much attention for its clear stance as a proponent of a multicultural society. Brushing aside arguments about an ethnic-religious divide in the German social fabric, the study argues that social milieus constitute much stronger markers of difference than ethnicity. This paper provides a critical appraisal of the postethnic vision articulated by Sinus. However, it also raises some methodological issues concerning the collection and analysis of data on immigrant populations. The concluding section discusses the limits of a politics of difference based on milieus. It questions the potential of the Sinus study to move the German immigration debate forward towards a more democratic vision of citizenship, given its de-emphasis of social inequalities rooted in relations of gender, "race" and class.
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.
In 1997, Hinrich Seeba offered a graduate seminar on Berlin at the University of California, Berkeley. He called it: "Cityscape: Berlin as Cultural Artifact in Literature, Art, Architecture, Academia." It was a true German studies course in its interdisciplinary and cultural anthropological approach to the topic: Berlin, to be analyzed as a "scape," a "view or picture of a scene," subject to the predilections of visual perception in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This course inspired my research on contemporary German history as represented in Berlin's Holocaust memorials. The number and diversity of these memorials has made this city into a laboratory of collective memory. Since the unification of East and West Germany in 1990, memorials in Berlin have become means to shape a new national identity via the history shared by both Germanys. In this article, I explore two particular memorials to show the tension between creating a collective, national identity, and representing the cultural and historical diversity of today's Germany. I compare the Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, or "national Holocaust memorial") which opened in central Berlin on May 10, 2005, to the lesser known, privately sponsored, decentralized "stumbling stone" project by artist Gunter Demnig.
Berlin 1948 and the longest airlift in history simultaneously ushered
in the Cold War, with a divided Berlin its best-known symbol, and
transformed West Berliners in the eyes of the Allied world from
Nazis to victims of Soviet aggression. By 1950, with Germany officially
divided, political elites of the East (GDR) and West (FRG)
took up the task of convincing their citizens and each other of the
legitimacy of their own governments. In spite of the primacy of
Cold War rhetoric in the media of the day, however, the most
pressing challenge of postwar society for both sides lay in redefining—
in perception, if not in fact—political and social institutions in
opposition to the Nazi past.
This article narrates the development of the antinuclear movement from the bottom up, showing how local protests initiated changes in Germans' ideas about democracy and public participation, precipitating the Green Party's emergence. The narrative begins with the pre-history of the 1975 occupation of the Wyhl reactor site in Southern Baden. It shows that vintners' concerns about the future of their livelihoods underpinned protests at Wyhl, but argues that the anti-reactor coalition grew in breadth after government officials' perceived misconduct caused local people to connect their agricultural concerns with democracy matters. It then explains how local protests like the Wyhl occupation influenced the formation of the German Green Party in the late 1970s, showing how the sorts of convergences that occurred amidst “single issue” protests like the anti-Wyhl struggle enabled a wide variety of activists to come together in the new party. Thus, the article argues that particular, local concerns initiated a rethinking of participation in electoral politics. Far from fracturing society, these local concerns promoted diverse new coalitions and shaped an inclusive approach to electoral politics.