In 2002, Germany was a developed nation located in Western Europe. With a population of 82 million people, it had a strong economy based on manufacturing, services and exports. The literacy rate was high at 99%, and the majority of the population lived in relative wealth. The economy had transitioned from an agrarian economy to one based on industry during the late 20th century and relied heavily on exports to other countries. According to computerannals, Germany had excellent infrastructure with well-maintained roads, reliable electricity and efficient telecommunications networks. Healthcare services were excellent; while universal healthcare coverage existed, access to quality medical care was available throughout the country. Education levels were also high; most adults had completed secondary school, while tertiary enrollment rates hovered around 45%. Despite its many advantages, Germany still faced economic challenges due to its reliance on exports and its large public sector debt levels.
Germany. According to Countryaah website, national day of Germany is every October 3. 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 incumbent government.
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 Bavaria.
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 election.
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 state representatives.
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 was de-ideologized.
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 socialist alternative.
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)).