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.
Continuity, Change, and the Role of Leaders
major developments in bilateral ties over the past twenty-five years, divided into three roughly equal periods corresponding to the chancellorships of Helmut Kohl, Gerhard Schröder, and Angela Merkel. As we shall see, while larger political and economic
, “too young to have faced the need to resist the seductions of National Socialism, yet old enough to have consciously witnessed the last years of the war.” 16 Helmut Kohl would adopt this delineation of the Kriegskinder cohort, pithily rendered with
Innocence and the Politics of Memory
Jonathan Bach and Benjamin Nienass
” and “economic miracle” established a basis for a different form of reclaiming innocence, one roundly critiqued by Theodor W. Adorno in his essay “What Does Coming to Terms with the Past Mean?” 1 In the 1980s, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's famous
How prophetic! Could it be that the famous German pacifist and chief editor of Die Weltbühne was commenting seventy years ago not just on the Weimar SPD but also on the Bonn SPD of 1998? Gerhard Schröder, the party’s chancellor designate in April 1998, insisted that the SPD had to occupy the “New Middle” in the political spectrum if it ever was going to topple Helmut Kohl and his well-entrenched CDU/CSU-FDP government.
Anne Sa’adah, Germany’s Second Chance: Trust, Justice, and Democratization
Review by Laurence McFalls
Karl-Rudolf Korte, Deutschlandpolitik in Helmut Kohls Kanzlerschaft: Regierungsstil und
Entscheidungen 1982-1989. Geschichte der deutschen Einheit, Band 1
Werner Weidenfeld, Aussenpolitk für die Deutsche Einheit. Geschichte der deutschen Einheit, Band 4
Review by Clay Clemens
William A. Barbieri Jr., Ethics of Citizenship: Immigration and Group Rights in Germany
Review by John Brady
Anton Pelinka, Austria: Out of the Shadow of the Past
Review by Erik Willenz
Ruth-Ellen Boetcher Joeres, Respectability and Deviance: Nineteenth-Century German Women Writers and the Ambiguity of Representation
Review by Kristin McGuire
Gerd Gemünden, Framed Visions: Popular Culture, Americanization, and the Contemporary German and Austrian Imagination
Review by Johannes von Moltke
It was the biggest political scandal in postwar German history. As revelation followed revelation in late 1999, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party finance (Parteifinanz) affair tarnished careers, most notably those of former chancellor Helmut Kohl and, separately, his longtime heir apparent Wolfgang Schäuble. When both fell, their party gained a new cadre of leaders. Most analysts expected the fallout ultimately to spread much further, fatally crippling the CDU and perhaps destroying it altogether. Voices could be heard to the effect that this scandal was on the same scale as one that rocked Italy a decade earlier, when the "Clean Hands" investigation unearthed massive evidence of bribery and corruption.
As chair of the CDU in 2000, and of its joint Bundestag caucus with the CSU in 2002, Angela Merkel was the fist woman and fist easterner to head a major German party; she had risen as a protege of Helmut Kohl, but breaking with him over his financial improprieties vaulted her into power. These features of her biography made her leadership unconventional. So too did her style, characterized by interpersonal reserve and lack of charisma. Merkel's views on cultural issues and economic policy-in particular, reform of the welfare state-were more liberal than those of her Union's mainstream. Finally, her resources within the CDU/CSU were limited to a loose network of younger outsiders, who helped sustain her against rivals at the Land level. While Merkel survived a poor CDU/CSU election in 2005 to become chancellor, her time as opposition leader suggested that she would struggle in that role too, yet also served as a caution against underrating her.
That old cliche Wechselbad der Emotionen aptly describes how Christian Democrats have felt since Germany’s September 1998 federal election. First came a crushing defeat, their worst showing in decades, and the end of sixteen years in power under Helmut Kohl, “chancellor of unity.” Two of Kohl’s proteges, newly chosen federal party and Bundestag caucus chair, Wolfgang Schäuble, and his handpicked general secretary, Angela Merkel, then helped the CDU to an unexpectedly rapid recovery: during 1999, the party gained ground in every Land-level election and an absolute majority of the vote in several contests. But even before their champagne went flat, party leaders found themselves mired in postwar Germany’s worst political finance scandal, triggered by revelations about Kohl’s penchant for long sustaining a personal slush-fund with large, unreported private contributions, and even by charges of bribery.
This article tries to assess the likely trajectory of Angela Merkel's policies toward the EU in contrast to her predecessor's. With Germany taking the European Council Presidency in the first half of 2007, Merkel will have had a year to put her stamp on the Presidency. By contrast, Gerhard Schröder, who took office in October 1998 had only two months before the German Council Presidency of 1999 began. I argue that Schröder's years will be remembered at the EU for a new emphasis on Germany's interests, and the decline of Germany's interest in and willingness to fund "European Grand Projects." Schröder had no great ambitions to follow Helmut Kohl's footsteps in being "reflexively European." Merkel, by contrast, shows signs early in her tenure to follow more closely her mentor's approach to the EU. I examine Germany's EU budget policies, as well as statements and policies toward the Stability and Growth Pact as the main support for the claim Merkel is different in policy not simply rhetoric.