loyal opposition committed to futhering the economic and social well-being of eastern Germans. In addition, almost all of the old leadership of the Honecker era was gone, either retired or dead. The party's new persona won it some popular support, but a major source of the new voter interest in the party was less an affection for the party itself than disappointment with the results of reunification, especially the persistence of unemployment and the prolongation of hard times for most workers and their families.
In parliamentary elections in October 1994, the Party of Democratic Socialism won about 14 percent of the popular vote in the eastern part of the country. The party benefited from the vigorous attacks on it by Chancellor Helmut Kohl. But the real reason for its success was the growing popular disenchantment throughout the territory of the former German Democratic Republic with Bonn's management of reunification, as well as unfulfilled pledges not only to be more solicitous of the well-being of eastern German workers and their families in the movement toward a market economy. To what extent eastern German voters have bought the party's message is uncertain. The party leadership is not taking any chances, however, and pledged honorable, constructive behavior in the new Bundestag, as well as another campaign to remove from its ranks any remaining militants who still believe that the orthodox communism of people like the late Honecker still has a political future.
As of the mid- 1990s, eastern Germans have not recovered from the swiftness of the change from communism to capitalism, and they are ill prepared for the transition from dictatorship to democracy and for the problems they face as they embrace new values and new institutions. The sudden and total collapse of the socialist order to which they had become accustomed, despite its irritants, has baffled, stunned, and demoralized many eastern Germans and has recalled similar feelings most Germans experienced in the Weimar Republic of the 1920s, when the country was trying to make democracy work despite a long history of authoritarian government dating to the origins of the German nation.
The democratization of eastern Germany is likely to take a long time. In the interim, former East German citizens are in a sort of developmental limbo. It is difficult for them to reject the paternalistic order under which they lived during the communist era, and it is almost as difficult for them to adjust to the unpredictability and to what seems to many to be the cold and uncaring character of the new economic and political systems they are told are democratic. While the Bonn government is trying very hard and sparing no cost to ease the transition, it
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Publication information: Book title: Revolution and Change in Central and Eastern Europe:Political, Economic, and Social Challenges. Contributors: Minton F. Goldman - Author. Publisher: M.E. Sharpe. Place of publication: Armonk, NY. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 178.
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