Democracy in Western Germany: Parties and Politics in the Federal Republic

Democracy in Western Germany: Parties and Politics in the Federal Republic

Democracy in Western Germany: Parties and Politics in the Federal Republic

Democracy in Western Germany: Parties and Politics in the Federal Republic

Excerpt

Since Democracy in Western Germany first appeared in 1979 much has changed on the political scene. In the late 1970s, the SPD with Helmut Schmidt looked set to rule for a long time to come whilst the CDU languished in opposition. The roles have now been reversed and Schmidt discarded by his party. That much belongs to the fortunes of politics. A more fundamental development has been the rise of the Greens and the impact of the peace movement. These new movements may still fail to upset the ruling 'party cartel', but they are significant in their implications of a changing political culture.

For this new edition I have sought to integrate new material into the existing framework of the book, modifying and extending my original arguments where appropriate. Some issues now appear less salient; a case in point is the furore over the employment of radicals in the public service; nonetheless that debate probably enlightens us more about the nature of German politics than do more recent happenings.

Liberal democracy in Western Germany has shown itself to be a stable system of power. Yet the transformation that has taken place since 1945 can really be appreciated only by understanding the vicissitudes of German politics over the past century. Without an historical perspective we could easily lose sight of the factors that shaped the nature of the 'democratic problem' for Germany. It is another question whether those constraints are still operative or whether the Federal Republic is now best thought of as a 'new nation'.

G.S.
June 1986 . . .

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