4
The Second Foundation of the Federal Republic

The chances of liberal democracy in a German society have never been as great as they are in the German Federal Republic . . . authoritarianism of the traditional kind has become impossible in German society. ( Ralf Dahrendorf, Democracy and Society in Germany ( 1965)) The structure of our state rests on fear of the people, on distrust of the people. The distrust towards parties, government and politicians, to which the people would in turn be obligated, does not manifest itself sufficiently or effectively. ( Karl Jaspers, Wokin treibt die Bundesrepublik? ( 1966))

THE 1950s were a decade of reconstruction in Western Germany, not of reform. The priority for both government and citizens was a return to normality, though, as we have seen, the normality they achieved was by no means the same as any in the German past. By 1961 there was a reasonably stable party system which permitted a chance of a peaceful alternation of power, and a widely accepted form of constitutional government. Anti-system parties faced public rejection, and would have done so even if they had not been banned under Article 21(2) of the Basic Law. Special-interest parties, like the Refugee Party, were in decline, as were regional parties such as the Bavarian Party and the DP. The FRG had adopted a market economy that provided prosperity for most of its citizens, even if not, as Erhard had proclaimed, for all. In the words of Fritz René Allemann's influential book of 1956, Bonn was not Weimar. Above all, the search for international recognition and equality of status had made giant steps forward. True, the victor powers retained some reserve powers; true, the path to international recognition that the Federal Republic had chosen involved the abandonment of traditional state sovereignty. But in return for this it had gained increasing influence within the arenas in which it operated, notably NATO and the EEC.

-71-

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German Politics, 1945-1995
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations viii
  • Chronology xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Unified, but not United 3
  • 3 - The Adenauer Era 51
  • 4 - The Second Foundation of the Federal Republic 71
  • 5 - The Other Germany 90
  • 6 - Ostpolitik 108
  • 7 - Modell Deutschland 129
  • 8 - A New Germany 155
  • Conclusion 183
  • Appendix I. Tables of Election Results 187
  • Appendix II. Figure of Economic Performance 189
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 190
  • Index 193
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