Politics and Government in Germany, 1944-1994: Basic Documents

By Carl-Christoph Schweitzer; Detlev Karsten et al. | Go to book overview

13
Public Opinion: Interest Groups and the Media

Detlev Karsten

I n general, interest groups are mediators between the economic and the socio-cultural spheres on the one hand and the political system on the other. The existence and the official recognition of interest groups is characteristic of a pluralistic society; the underlying assumption is that the commonweal can only be reached by taking many different group interests into consideration. In a socialist system like that which existed in the GDR, the common interest is defined by the ruling party-line. There is no room for a formal representation of diverging group interests or for media which express thoughts which deviate from the officially proclaimed views. Consequently, this whole field--insofar as it existed in the GDR-- was in one way or the other controlled by the party and the state apparatus; in particular the Stasi (see also Ch.3) watched carefully over all dissenters and non-conformists.*

Reunification meant the transition to a pluralistic system. Not surprisingly, the structures existing in the old Länder were taken over. This change was particularly difficult in the media-sector, because in the GDR this field was fully controlled by the state and the party. Also, most of the media people--at least in high positions--had been staunch supporters of the old system: this, after all, had been a decisive criterion in their recruitment. Moreover, many were actually compromised by or suspected of links with the Stasi. As a result, the personnel for the new beginning came mainly from the old Länder. This also applies to the leading functionaries of all other interest groups. In practice, the western organizations extended their operations to the new Länder, and for the task of organizing their representation in the East, they delegated their own people. All this contributed to the impression occasionally articulated by people in the new Länder that they were colonized. It fits into this picture, that--with the partial exception of the PDS (see also Ch.8)--neither a major organization,

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*
Notes for this chapter begin on p. 396.

-371-

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Politics and Government in Germany, 1944-1994: Basic Documents
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface to the First Edition xv
  • Preface to the Second Edition xvii
  • Introduction xix
  • 1 - The Origins of The Federal Republic Of Germany, 1944-1949 1
  • 2 - Berlin 29
  • 3 - The Two Germanies 48
  • 4 - Germany Reunited 1989--Her First Successful Revolution, And a Peaceful One 76
  • 5 - Foreign Policy 108
  • 6 - Defence Policy and the Armed Forces 150
  • 7 - Parliamentary Democracy: The Bundestag 175
  • 8 - Political Parties 201
  • 9 - Chancellor, Cabinet, and President 239
  • 10 - The Judiciary 272
  • 11 - Basic Rights And Constitutional Review 297
  • 12 - Federalism: Bund and Länder 325
  • 13 - Public Opinion: Interest Groups and the Media 371
  • 14 - Economic and Social Policy 401
  • Statistical Tables 432
  • Glossary 446
  • Select Bibliography 449
  • Notes on the Editors 458
  • Index 460
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