Institutions and Institutional Change in the Federal Republic of Germany

Institutions and Institutional Change in the Federal Republic of Germany

Institutions and Institutional Change in the Federal Republic of Germany

Institutions and Institutional Change in the Federal Republic of Germany


This volume offers an account of German political institutions. Each of the chapters, written by leading German specialists, provides an assessment of the institution under consideration as well as the political research in the given field.


Since unification, German politics has clearly become one of those subjects that have attracted growing attention among foreign scholars of comparative politics. While international research on the Federal Republic has significantly prospered over the past decade, the German- language literature on the German system of government and the somewhat smaller English-language body of research on the Federal Republic are still marked by a kind of 'co-existence' rather than unrestricted mutual exchange-a fact that can at least partly be explained by the continuing language barriers.

This volume contains a collection of original essays written by German specialists, many of whom have long dominated the debate in their respective area of research at home without presenting their insights to a larger English-speaking community of scholars. the common perspective of the individual chapters is on continuity and change of the core institutions of the German polity. What general developmental direction have German political institutions taken during the past half-century? Does it appear reasonable to consider the political system of the Federal Republic as an island of institutional stability, as many foreign observers suggest? and what impact has unification had on the working of German political institutions?

As the initiator and editor of this volume I have probably accumulated more debts than any other participant in this project. in particular I would like to thank Klaus von Beyme and Manfred G. Schmidt for their comments on earlier drafts of the introductory chapter. Parts of Chapters 1 and 5 were written during my time as a Visiting Researcher in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science, August 1997-June 1998. I feel indebted to the German Academic Exchange Service for granting me an unusually generous post-doctoral research scholarship. the editorial work on this volume would not have been finished on time without the kindness and patience of my former colleagues in the Department of Political Science at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna. My special thanks go to Niken Sri Mastuti who undertook the main body of typing work for this volume and worked tirelessly checking the numerous revisions.


Ludger helms

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