MI-KYUNG KIM and JOHN D.ROBERTSON
Unification has confronted Germans with a challenge of historical proportions. Namely, consolidating two former independent nation-states into one. The intention, of course, is to forge a new national identity and clearly define a commonly accepted historical and political purpose for the new nation-state which affords it a legitimate political community. Political community implies a clear sense of common identity among citizens with the new German state. Yet, as all too many observers have noted, consensus and solidarity have been hampered in Germany since its re-unification in 1990 by the persistence of divergent political attitudes and perceptions of a just and legitimate democratic community prevailing within each of the two parts of the unified nation-state. 1 After more than ten years of German unification, Eastern Germans regularly express feelings of 'relative deprivation' and 'the loss of self-respect', despite the fact that wages, pensions and per capita income are almost double their previous levels, following nearly a trillion dollars of German investment into Eastern Germany between 1991 and 2001. The significance of this growing gap in perceptions is underscored when we are reminded that Eastern Germans were relatively more likely to engage in frequent political and economic protest activities than other East and Central European countries, the populations of which had experienced much higher economic dislocation and deprivation during the period 1989-93. 2
A variety of survey data indicate that the two parts of Germany are distinctly apart on a number of crucial issues that reflect a general difficulty in achieving a common political community. For instance, based on Eurobarometer data from spring 2002, when asked if they 'tended to trust' or whether they 'tended not to trust' eight specified institutions within the German polity, 56 per cent of Western German respondents, on average, tended to support these institutions, while only 46 per cent of Eastern Germans tended to trust the same institutions. The gap was considerably wider for the institution reflecting the broader political culture of a society
Mi-Kyung Kim and John D. Robertson, Texas A&M University
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: The Berlin Republic: German Unification and a Decade of Changes. Contributors: Winand Gellner - Editor, John D. Robertson - Editor. Publisher: F. Cass. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 3.
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