The modernization of the public administration has been one of the main objectives pursued by the Renzi government. What distinguishes the reform cycle launched in 2015 is the emphasis on centralization, unification, and the reduction of institutional fragmentation in the public sector after a long period in which autonomy and the organizational pluralism of administrations and government levels were enhanced. This reform strategy is consistent with the underlying trends of transformation in the political and institutional systems, in which the power of the prime minister has gradually increased. The actual impact of these reform measures, however, depends on concrete organizational instruments of subsequent implementing legislation in a context characterized by persistent spending cuts, which are necessary to maintain financial stability.
Fabrizio Di Mascio and Alessandro Natalini
Joyce Marie Mushaben
Germans have now been unified for thirty years, longer than they had been separated by concrete barriers, yet the Wall in their respective heads has persisted. Unequal wages, a lack of investment in structurally weak regions, and ongoing western elite domination continue to fuel Eastern perceptions of second-class citizenship, despite significant shifts in the fates of key social groups who initially saw themselves as the “winners” and losers” of unification. This article considers the dialectical identities of four groups whose collective opportunity structures have been dramatically reconfigured since 1990: eastern intellectuals and dissidents; working women and mothers; eastern youth; and middle-aged men. It argues that the two groups counted among the immediate winners of unification—dissidents and men—have traded places over the last three decades with the two strata counted among unity’s core losers, women and youth. It also testifies to fundamental, albeit rarely noted changes that have taken hold with regard to the identities of western Germans across thirty years of unification.
Michael Sutton, France and the Construction of Europe 1944–2007 (Oxford: Berghahn, 2007).
Tilo Schabert, How World Politics is Made: France and the Reunification of Germany, trans. John Tyler Tuttle (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2009).
Frédéric Bozo, Mitterrand, the End of the Cold War and German Unification, trans. Susan Emanuel (Oxford: Berghahn, 2009).
Has economic unification succeeded? Assessments differ, depending on the criteria selected, and the benchmark used. In many areas, from productivity to infrastructure and housing, dramatic economic improvements are readily apparent. Yet daunting challenges remain: the speed of productivity convergence has slowed, unemployment remains high and net emigration continues. Looking forward, demographic and fiscal trends pose serious challenges. This paper begins with a brief look back at the experience since 1989 before turning to a discussion of current and future challenges.
Losing its Identity?
The story of Die Linke (Left Party, or LP) over the past thirty years reflects the incomplete project of politically unifying the two halves of Germany. Over the course of its history, the LP has been transformed from a desperate holdover from the communist era, to a populist representative of eastern identity in the decade after unification, and finally to a modern, all-German radical left party. Since 2015, however, the LP has found itself threatened in its eastern German heartland by the radical right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is attempting to supplant the LP as the voice of eastern German protest.
Since German unification there have been dramatic and highly visible changes in the German financial system and relations between banks and firms in Germany. The traditional Hausbank system has weakened, as securities markets have become more important for both borrowers and savers. The demands of financial investors on how German firms manage themselves have—for better or worse—become increasingly influential in this time. In this article, I advance the thesis that bank-industry relations in Germany became increasingly differentiated, with one set of firms moving into an institutional environment readily characterized as market-based finance. Meanwhile, most German firms remain in a bank-based environment that, while not quite the same as the Hausbank model that prevailed at the time of unification, is still easily recognized as such. These changes in the financial system have had numerous consequences for the German economy, including increased pressure on firms to make greater profits and increased pressure on labor to limit wage gains and make concessions in the interest of corporate competitiveness.
How can one best investigate the mental attitudes and patterns of
behavior of eastern Germans eight years after political unification?
Since 1990, the method dominating this discussion has been based
on measuring the degree to which easterners have “caught up” with
the supposedly more modern western Germans. However, empirical
studies and surveys have shown that this model is an ineffective, even
inappropriate means of describing how unification has impacted the
lives of eastern Germans. In this article, I argue that a more appropriate
approach is to consider the enduring differences in the opportunity
structures among eastern and western Germans, as well as the
differences in their respective behavioral patterns. In this context,
“opportunity structure” refers to the opportunities provided and limitations
imposed by social structures. For the analysis of opportunity
structures, I focus on what I call “contradictory adaptation” and
“problematic normalization.” My analysis of behavioral patterns
emphasizes the logic internal to the subjects themselves (Eigenlogik).
This internal logic differs significantly from outsiders’ interpretations
of easterners’ behavior, as the following example illustrates.
This article addresses how recent German films depict unification, placing special emphasis on the question of cinematic time. In contrast with Germany's most internationally successful films about the East German past—including Das Versprechen (1994), which emerged in the un-reflected moments not long after the fall of the Wall, Das Leben der Anderen (2006), which portrayed daily life under the shadow of the Stasi, and even Good Bye, Lenin! (2003), which depicted the period immediately following the fall of the Wall—and with the intention of identifying an alternative mode of depicting the GDR past, this paper explores a post Wende cinema of disillusionment. It examines: the revaluation of the time of unification itself in Oskar Roehler's Die Unberührbare (1999); the time of demission subsequent to unification as portrayed in Robert Thalheim's Netto (2004); and, the forsaken time of the postunification present as depicted in Christian Petzold's Yella (2007). The article provides an overview of this cinematic tendency, and comments specifically on how these three films represent the difference between the passage of historical time and its subjective experience.
Stephen J. Silvia
This article investigates the progress that the eastern German economy has made since unification in two areas: unemployment and output. It finds that unemployment has remained persistently higher in eastern than in western Germany and output levels have remained extremely uniform across the eastern states. Keynesian and neoclassical economists have proposed differing explanations for the endurance of high unemployment in the East. The latter have the more convincing argument, which blames high initial wages in eastern Germany for producing a labor "trap," but this account is not without flaws. The best explanation for output uniformity is the content and volume of public investment in eastern Germany since unification. Public policy in the years immediately following unification is in large part responsible for both outcomes. Economic modeling indicates that wage subsidies targeted at low-income employment would be the most effective means to break the current high-unemployment equilibrium in eastern Germany, but the political barriers to adopting such a policy are just as formidable as they were a decade ago, when such a policy was briefly considered.
The Federal Republic of Germany—both before and after 1989—has been influenced deeply by collective memories of the Nazi period and the Holocaust, a seemingly "unmasterable past." In a first phase after unification, memory trends, which had their origin in the mid 1980s, continued, but a second period, beginning around the 1999 move of the capital back to Berlin, however, witnessed the erosion of this older trend and the delayed rise of new memory dynamics. Substantively, there have been three vectors of memory concerning Nazi crimes, German suffering, and the period of division, especially regarding the German Democratic Republic. In this article, I outline the major collective memory dynamics and debates, first from a qualitative and then from a more quantitative perspective where I analyze the holdings of the German National Library. I conclude that an intense period of memory work characterized the postunification years, but the peak of concern was reached several years ago and the German future will be much less beholden to the past. Given inevitable normalizing trends and the unintended consequences of the hegemony of Holocaust memory, Germany's difficult historical legacy increasingly appears to be disappearing or even mastered.