The Domestic Politics of German Unification

By Christopher Anderson; Karl Kaltenthaler et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Years of Transition: Financing East German Parties in 1989/90

Peter Lösche

The German unification process is occasionally described in stereotypes. One such stereotype is the claim that the Federal Republic simply took over the German Democratic Republic in 1989/90, or that the GDR was "colonized" by the FRG, so to speak. Applied to the realm of political parties and the party system, the clichd would indicate that the West German parties simply bought up their East German counterparts and that the East German party system was replaced by the West German system of party competition. It is worth asking whether and to what extent this claim has validity, that is, whether and to what extent the West German parties actually did take over their East German sister organizations. In this chapter, I discuss this question by closely examining the financing of the East German parties before and during the unification year.

The story starts in the mid- 1980s with the old regime, when the Stalinist SED dominated other parties such as the CDU, the German Peasants' Party, or the Liberal Democratic Party of Germany (LDPD). Subsequently, this chapter will examine the transitional period of 1989/90 that brought about the merger of some of these parties with their West German sister organizations in 1990. Because four election campaigns had to be organized and financed during the unification year (Volkskammer elections in March, the local elections in May, Lönder elections in October, and the all-German election in December), the East German parties clearly were badly in need of financial resources during 1990.

What is true generally in the area of party and campaign financing is true specifically in analyzing the finances of East German parties: One has to be a detective. There are many rumors, but almost no precise data; there is much speculation, but the whole story still has to be told; bits of information turn up, but the researcher does not have access to all the sources he needs to put together the mosaic. This is especially true when investigating the claim of absorption of East German parties. Except for one article there

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