Politics and Religion in Central and Eastern Europe: Traditions and Transitions

By William H. Swatos Jr | Go to book overview

Around the beginning of February, elections were finally set for 18 March. Some opposition leaders accused Modrow of setting the elections so soon because he felt the SED would have a greater chance of winning with so little lead time. After angry initial outbursts, however, the opposition groups got down to the business of promoting candidates for offices. The groups faded into the background as individuals from the groups tried to gain enough recognition to be elected. Any election takes money, and groups that could get West German funding were able to run more comprehensive campaigns. The Christian Democrats, the East German branch of the leading West German party, were well funded. New Forum chose not to be represented in the election, deciding instead to continue to serve as a general initiative for reform.

During the maintenance stage of the freedom movement, the demonstrations lessened in frequency and attendance. The opposition groups had to work harder to get demonstrations organized and spent most of their time writing platforms to present in the campaigns. After December, the demonstrations ended, and the opposition groups focused entirely on the elections to come.


TERMINATION

The opposition became the establishment 18 March 1990. In the free elections on that day, the people made their choice. The Christian Democrats, heavily sponsored by West Germany and in favor of quick reunification, won 40 percent of the vote. The Socialist Democratic party won another 21 percent of the vote ( Leipziger Volkszeitung, 1990). The SED won 16 percent of the vote -- not surprising considering the party machine and the one million people who still considered themselves Communist party members.

The people celebrated the successful termination of the freedom movement after the elections. The separate groups in the movement may not have been as happy, since the people who won the elections were primarily supported by West Germans who favored fast reunification. Reunification with West Germany, from all indications, was inevitable. Now that the movement is the establishment, it will eventually face another generation of reformers.


CONCLUSION

The freedom movement in East Germany was born and nurtured in the church. At a time when protest was illegal, the church gave the freedom movement legitimacy and protection. During the twenty years of the genesis stage, the church gave the people of East Germany a place to talk freely. The social unrest stage was much shorter, as the

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