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Neoliberalism and Welfare Chauvinism in Germany

An Examination of Survey Evidence

Marko Grdešić

Anti-immigration sentiments can take on a variety of forms, but a particularly prevalent version across Europe is welfare chauvinism. According to welfare chauvinism, the services of the welfare state should be provided only to natives and not to immigrants. Like many other European countries, German politics also features welfare chauvinism, and not only on the far right segment of the political spectrum. What drives welfare chauvinism? Most studies of welfare chauvinism try to assess whether economic or cultural factors matter most. In an attempt to bridge these perspectives, this article brings in neoliberalism. An examination of survey results from EBRD’s Life in Transition project suggests that neoliberal economic attitudes are a key determinant of welfare chauvinism. German respondents who have neoliberal economic views tend to see immigrants as a drain on the welfare state, while those who have economically leftist views tend to see immigrants as providing a positive contribution.

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Germany and the United States

Whither “Partners in Leadership”?

Matthew Rhodes

In 1989, U.S. President George H.W. Bush presented a vision of the United States and Germany as “partners in leadership” in building a peaceful and secure post Cold War world. A confluence of factors brought this vision closest to realization during the overlapping tenures of U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Persistent limitations and shifting conditions including the election of U.S. President Donald Trump now call the future viability of the vision into question, even as U.S.-German ties remain the most plausible anchor of cooperative transatlantic ties in a period of global change.

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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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Alexandra Hennessy

How do political parties respond to a major economic shock? This article studies this question in the context of the eurozone crisis. Specifically, I analyze the partisan appeals made by German politicians in the run-up to the 2013 federal election in Germany. Contrary to existing models of party responsiveness, I argue that enacting quick crisis resolution mechanisms is not always the main concern of reelection-seeking politicians. Instead, officials may have incentives to deliberately withhold emergency measures in an effort to win a mandate for more comprehensive policy solutions later. The findings have implications for notions of democratic accountability.

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Christian Schweiger

With Brexit, the European Union has entered the first phase of unprecedented and potentially wider political disintegration. This is a reflection of the growing division between the EU’s core political agenda, defined under Germany’s increasingly uncompromising hegemonial leadership throughout the past decade, and the political preferences of the periphery in Southern and Central-Eastern Europe. This article critically examines the multiple effects of Germany’s dominant leadership role in the EU since the onset of the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis on the basis of a liberal intergovernmentalist perspective. It also considers future perspectives for German leadership in the EU after Brexit. As Angela Merkel enters her fourth term as German chancellor, she faces growing domestic political pressures and dwindling support for German leadership in the EU. German leadership is therefore more constrained than ever at a time when it is urgently needed to steer the EU away from further disintegration and towards lasting consolidation. The latter will require Berlin to engage profoundly in rebuilding a multilateral EU leadership constellation with France and Poland, which develops an inclusive policy agenda that represents the growing diversity of national interests amongst the remaining EU-27 member states.

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Randall Newnham

How can we understand German-Russian relations since German reunification? Both the geopolitical positions of the two states and the political and economic ties between them have been transformed over the past twentyfive years. This paper will argue, however, that the role of the two countries’ leaders in shaping these relations has been surprisingly important. Building on the tradition of “first image” analysis in international relations, this paper shows that, along with larger political and economic trends, personal relations between these leaders have helped to set the tenor of bilateral ties. When the leaders were able to build trust and personal friendships, relations improved. Yet more recently, since 2012, relations have soured sharply. While there are obviously larger reasons for this, more negative personal ties between leaders have also played an important role. In short, just as issues of trust and friendship matter in personal ties, they also matter in International Relations.

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Dan Hough

This article utilizes a neoinstitutionalist framework to argue that while Germany’s anticorruption infrastructure remains strong, resilient pathdependent tendencies often make it difficult to reform. The article analyzes three specific areas: the state’s attitude to regulating German business, meeting international anticorruption commitments, and doing justice to the rising transparency agenda. High-profile examples of corruption in multinational businesses prompted significant changes to these companies’ compliance regimes. This critical juncture, however, did not prompt reform across much of the Mittelstand. Germany’s preparedness to fulfill international commitments, meanwhile, has been strongly dependent on correspondence with the internal logic of German politics and law. Where this was not so and in the absence of any critical junctures, change has been infrequent. Finally, the rise of an international transparency agenda has not fit with the logics of German public life, and change has been minimal. Thus, despite a strong anticorruption record, German elites would benefit from proactively thinking about where corruption lurks and what could be done.

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When the Exit?

The Difficult Politics of German Coal

Tessa Coggio and Thane Gustafson

This article considers Germany’s contentious exit from brown coal (lignite), now set for 2038. While greener alternatives, such as wind, solar, or natural gas have been reducing coal’s standing in Germany’s energy mix for years, coal proponents, backed by special interests, have pushed back at all levels of government. With a focus on the politics of coal during the 2017 parliamentary elections, the tedious months of coalition negotiations and the work of the coal committee since summer 2018, we explore how policymakers try to reconcile competing interests at the federal state, local, as well as international levels.

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Liesa Rühlmann and Sarah McMonagle

This article highlights issues of Othering and linguicism and identifies the challenges of undoing taboos of race and racism in popular and academic discourses in Germany. We discuss the prospect of introducing critical race theory to expose these issues that we see as especially urgent, as Germany remains host to very large numbers of international migrants. A monolingual and monocultural idea of Germany does not befit this country of immigration in the twenty-first century.

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Michael Ebert, Ilona Ostner, Uschi Brand and Steffen Kühnel

Large-scale initiatives to improve individual life chances and social structures face many problems. They need proper theorising and equally proper operationalisation. This is where the EFSQ project on ‘Social Quality Indicators’ comes into play: its main objective was to develop concepts and instruments for a country- and European-wide assessment of social quality. On the basis of ontological considerations about ‘the social’, the new approach defined a ‘quadrangle’ of four basic conditions which were assumed to determine the development of social quality: ‘socio-economic security’, ‘social inclusion’, ‘social cohesion’ and ‘social empowerment’. Relevant domains and sub-domains for each of the four components were identified and a restricted set of ‘ideal’ – mostly objective – indicators was chosen. The availability of already existing ‘hard’ data did not influence that process. Hence the project has stretched beyond the mere description of social quality in Europe and provided a stimulus to gather new relevant data on ‘forgotten’ aspects of the social quality of life. Social indicator research has a long tradition in Germany which helped us to draw effectively upon the results of regularly conducted surveys. The following report starts by explaining the German context. It then summarises key-findings from existing databases to give meaning to the ninety-five social quality indicators in the four components. Finally, we have included discussion of relevant policy initiatives.