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German politics:. An introduction. Some key features. Remade democracy Moderate multipartyism Consensus rather than adversarial democracy Federal – but with a difference Strongly European. The Germany that might have been:. A large number of parties: polarized pluralism Unstable

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german politics

German politics:

An introduction

some key features
Some key features
  • Remade democracy
  • Moderate multipartyism
  • Consensus rather than adversarial democracy
  • Federal – but with a difference
  • Strongly European
the germany that might have been
The Germany that might have been:
  • A large number of parties:
    • polarized pluralism
  • Unstable
  • Marginally democratic – if at all
  • Revanchist
remade democracy
Remade democracy
  • 1945 as year zero
  • Partition and truncation of Germany
  • Problem: How do you (re-) establish democracy where it did not flourish before?
shaping postwar germany
Shaping postwar Germany
  • Allied intentions
  • Licensing participants
  • The Cold War
  • Building institutions
    • Political Engineering in the west?
    • Cloning in the east?
shaping the federal republic
Shaping the Federal Republic

Constitutional engineering:

  • Attempts to ensure democracy
    • Citizens’ rights up front
  • Attempts to ensure stability
    • Recourse to federalism as a source of checks and balances
    • Positive vote of non-confidence
    • Parties to shape democratic will
      • Possibility of banning parties which do not
  • Constitutional limits on the external use of force
seizing opportunities the cold war
Seizing opportunities: the cold war
  • Joining Europe
  • Joining NATO
  • The social market economy (Ludwig Erhard)
  • The Marshall Plan and the economic miracle (wunderwirtschaft
  • Result:
    • a Germany embedded in Europe and the west
frg ddr
  • But also a Germany embedded in the east
  • FRG: explicitly federal
  • DDR: centralized command economy
remaking political culture

Making democrats

Making participants

Dealing with the past



Historians’ debate


Doing it their way:

Remake the economy: build socialism and you solve the problem

Remaking political culture
parties and political forces
Parties and political forces
  • 1949 as the ‘last election of Weimar’
  • 5% threshold & its impact:
    • Use of MMP, double vote
    • Smaller parties eliminated or absorbed
    • FRG ends up with three party system
      • (later four, then five parties)
consensus democracy
Consensus democracy:
  • FRG a system with strong, generally effective leaders
  • Also a system in which it is difficult for any single actor to assert his or her will
  • Coalition government as the norm
  • Fact of federalism: (16 provinces or laender)
    • Leander built into the federal political system via the Bundesrat (Federal Council)
    • Enjoy collective veto over all legislation affecting the laender
  • Inclusion of organized interests in policy processes
  • Both encourage a politics of consultation & quiet negotiation – working it out beforehand
reunification and its impact
Reunification and its impact
  • A moving train?
  • Absorbing the east:
    • 5 newly created laender accede to FRG
    • Institutions continue
    • East colonized
  • Ossies v. Wessies