Countryaah website, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the Social
Democratic SPD managed to remain in short supply with the
government in the September elections, thanks to the
coalition party De Greene strengthening its position. The
SPD lost 47 seats and received a total of 251 of the 603
seats in the Bundestag, while the Greens increased by 8 and
got 55. The Christian Democratic CDU together with the
Bavarian sister party CSU received 248 seats, a total of 3
more than before. The big loser became the former communists
in the PDS who failed to get over the 5 percent barrier and
only got 2 seats for constituencies in Berlin.
During much of the electoral movement, the government
coalition seemed hopeless after the Christian Democratic CDU
/ CSU, which at the beginning of the year had appointed
Bavaria's head of government, CSU leader Edmund Stoiber, as
its chancellor candidate. Not least the rising unemployment,
Schröder lay in the barrel. In connection with the 1998
elections, he had promised to reduce the number of
unemployed to 3.5 million, but in January the symbolically
charged 4-million level was passed instead. The weak
economic growth did not make the situation easier for the
In August, however, many Germans' sympathies swung to
Schröder's advantage as he acted vigorously when floods hit
Central Europe, including vast areas of eastern and southern
Germany. The floods were the worst in modern times in the
region, forcing the largest evacuation since World War II.
Some 40 people died in Germany alone, 180 bridges and
thousands of houses were destroyed and 74 miles of road and
53 miles of railroad were severely damaged. The worst was
the state of Saxony, but great devastation was also caused
in Saxony-Anhalt, further north along the Elbe river and
Schröder was considered to be politically courageous when
he decided to postpone a promised tax cut at the turn of the
year to be able to allocate € 6.9 billion to rebuild after
the floods. He gathered other Central European leaders and
EU representatives to a summit in Berlin, and the EU also
pledged extensive support to the affected areas.
The Chancellor also strengthened his position among
voters by categorically rejecting all German support for a
possible war against Iraq, regardless of UN action. This
stubborn attitude led to a bottom freeze on relations with
the United States, which was a driving force in attacks to
overthrow Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. President George W.
Bush did not even send the usual congratulations when the
election results were clear.
Relations did not get better because, according to a
journalist, the German Justice Minister Herta Däubler-Gmelin
said that Bush's war aims to divert attention from domestic
political problems, a method "already used by Hitler". She
later claimed that she was misquoted, but Schröder did not
take her with him in a government transformation after the
The economy continued to be weak and Germany received a
formal warning from the EU as the budget deficit was
projected to reach 3.8% of GDP during the year. It violated
the EU's stability agreement, which set a limit of 3%.
The first trial in Germany related to last year's
terrorist act in the United States began in August. Moroccan
citizen Mounir Motassadeq was charged with conspiring with a
group of Islamists in Hamburg in which several of the
suicide bombers had been involved.
In April, a 19-year-old shot dead 16 people and injured a
number in a high school in Erfurt, before taking his own
life. The perpetrator had recently been suspended from
school and most of the victims were teachers. The insanity
was the worst that hit Germany during the postwar period.
West Germany (1945-90)
From 1948, the United States consistently sought to
establish a West German state and on May 23, 1949, the
Federal Republic of Germany was established. The
Constitution stipulated that the Federal Republic should be
a parliamentary democracy with a certain federal structure.
The aim of the policy was to unite Germany's unification
into one state. Foreign and domestic policy, economic policy
and tax policy had to be centrally determined, while the
states got cultural policy and certain domestic policy
issues as their field.
Formally, the Bundestag became the supreme representative
body of the population, while the Bundestag as a kind of
second chamber represented the states. At the head of the
state sat the federal president, who was to be elected for
five years by Federal Representatives and an equal number of
As the Cold War began, social and economic reconstruction
was forced. Especially within business and administration,
the social forces regained the positions they held before
1945. Already in 1952, Chancellor Adenauer demanded "that
Nazi investigations be stopped". The claim was clearly
stated that until the end of 1964, only 6,115 Nazi criminals
were convicted in the Federal Republic against 12,807 in the
GDR during the same period.
The election for the first Federal Day in 1949 buried all
hope of the labor movement to have a decisive influence on
the design of the Federal Republic. The largest bourgeois
party, the CDU, prevailed (31% against the Social Democrats
(SPD) 29.2%) and a bourgeois-conservative coalition
government under the leadership of Konrad Adenauer (CDU)
could be formed.
Despite the clear wind of the right-wing forces, strong
anti-capitalist features continued to exist in the first
year of the Federal Republic. In 1951, despite the
opposition of the labor buyers, workers in the coal and
steel industry managed to pass a comprehensive law on
co-determination. On the other hand, the struggle for a more
comprehensive law for working life was unsuccessful. The
integration of the working class into the capitalist system
was promoted by several factors: The psychological impact of
the Marshall Plan was great and led to a marked upturn in
the economy. In the western world, the armor boom also led
to a significant increase in living standards in West
Germany. There was talk of an "economic miracle". The
Stalinization process in the GDR and the relatively low
level of income there were particularly used by the CDU as
an argument against any socialist alternative.
In its policy, the Adenauer government closely followed
the US proposal in the Cold War. Through a strong bond with
the western countries, the economic power position, national
sovereignty and the Soviet Union could be forced to retire.
Therefore, as early as 1950, it was considered what
contribution the Federal Republic could make to a Western
defense system. NATO membership in May 1955 meant total
integration into the West bloc and the end of any hope of a
German reunification. At this point, too, the Social
Democrats could not put their politics through. A policy
that otherwise advocated a German reunion. The orientation
towards the West emerged as an acceptable alternative to
German nationalism, which after two world wars was
unacceptable both nationally and internationally.
Adenauer's policy was consistently built on the
anti-communist and anti-socialist traditions of the German
bourgeoisie. This policy reached its climax when, during the
McCarthy period, CDU / CSU gained 50.2% of the vote (1957).
The Social Democrats gradually adapted to both Adenauer's
policy and the consumption mindset of the people, hoping to
be recognized as a responsible political force. The policy
The Bundestag elections were no longer a choice between
alternative political ideas. The relaxation policy, the new
needs of business and the criticism of the Adenauer
government's domestic policy led to the era of Adenauer
coming to an end in 1963.
After the period of Ludwig Erhard (CDU) as Chancellor
(October 1963 to November 1966), the government cooperation
between CDU / CSU and the SPD - "the great coalition" -
began and began the necessary reorientation. In order to
prove that the party had the capacity for government
responsibility, the SPD was willing to cooperate with both a
former member of the Nazi Party as Chancellor (Kurt Georg
Kiesinger) and with Franz Josef Strauss (CSU). The "big
coalition" appeared to many as the first step towards the
one-party state, and this, alongside the anti-imperialist
protest and university problems, was a trigger for the
extra-parliamentary opposition (APO) that prevailed in
1967-68 - especially among students and intellectuals.
The foreign and trade policy opening to the communist
countries demanded a stronger internal discipline. Once the
East contacts were established, communism could no longer be
maintained as a counter-image to date and a danger of
ideological dissolution emerged. With the so-called
«emergency preparedness» laws in 1968, the CDU / SPD
government provided a tool that could be used - even against
the internal opposition ('internal enemies') - in crisis
situations, and which could put parliamentary control bodies
out of service. This was a first step towards undermining
the original intentions of the Constitution. Foreign policy
Foreign Minister Brandt (SPD) began to adapt the West German
policy to the international foreign policy situation and to
prepare a recognition of the Federal Republic based on the
political realities in Europe.
The election of Gustav Heinemann (SPD) as new federal
president in March 1969 ushered in a new political alliance
between the SPD and the FDP - the Liberal Party. In October
1969, the SPD and FDP formed a coalition government with
Willy Brandt as federal chancellor and Walter Scheel (FDP)
as foreign minister.
The new government seemed to represent another "Germany".
A Germany that was not characterized by a Nazi past and who
sought understanding with the eastern neighbors who suffered
most from German fascism. However, the fire government's
announced reform policy was implemented as little as a new
foreign policy style. It was true that the "East Agreements"
were signed in 1972, but it was basically a long-term
recognition of existing conditions. In the attitude of US
imperialism - e.g. in the Vietnam War- and for racist and
dictatorial regimes, no reassessment was made. The
extraordinary election in 1972 led to a large personal vote
of confidence for Brandt, when the SPD became, for the first
time, West Germany's largest party (45.8% versus 44.9% for
CDU / CSU). Then the government's decay began, and in May
1974, Helmut Schmidt from the SPD's right wing became new
federal chancellor after it was revealed that Brandt's
private secretary was a spy for the GDR.
One of the reactions to the emerging one-party state and
to the "social-liberal" administration of the crisis was the
terrorism that engulfed the Federal Republic. The wave of
violence reached its peak with the kidnapping and killing of
Hans Martin Schleyer, the president of the West German
Employers' Association. This must be understood in the
context of the increasing brutalization of the state's
apparatus of violence. Verbal acquaintance of the " Red Arms
Fraction " (RAF) to the left, but viewed objectively, the
movement earned right-wing forces and further discredited a
For the state parties, terrorism formed the basis of
comprehensive legislation that not only targeted terrorism
but also established a surveillance state directed at the
most diverse forms of anti-capitalist and system-critical
activity. There were demands for increased censorship
(especially in the CDU / CSU controlled states),
self-censorship in radio, TV, the press and in schools and a
poisoning of the political climate.
After 13 years of cooperation, the FDP withdrew from the
government in 1982 and the SPD had to leave the government.
It was followed by a liberal-conservative coalition
government made up of the CDU (CSU and FDP, led by
Chancellor Helmut Kohl (CDU)).