The Domestic Politics of German Unification

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

public opinion polls, the Social Democrats, who received 24 percent of the East German vote in December 1990 (compared with 42 percent for the CDU) would now get substantially more support than the CDU.

Today there are rising resentments against political parties in the former GDR. Increasing human costs of the unification process, such as high unemployment, disappointment about the free-market economy, and rightwing radicalism, have caused what is called Parteienverdrossenheit (party discontentment). The number of party members of the CDU and FDP in East Germany has decreased dramatically, whereas polls suggest that the SPD is benefiting from a modest increase in membership to about 25,000 in all five Länder. To stem the tide of antiparty resentment the CDU, FDP, and SPD have focused on building their organizational infrastructure in the former GDR. In terms of party finance, the state party organizations in East Germany increasingly depend on subsidies from their Bonn headquarters. Today there are no more direct public subsidies for organizational purposes (as there were in the GDR in 1990). Because the organizational structures of the CDU and FDP are deteriorating and the SPD still has to set up a coherent structure, the collection of membership dues does not work very well. According to SPD estimates, the party needs 40 million DM for the next four years in order to establish its organization, hold party conferences, pay for intraparty communication, and run election campaigns in the five new states. Therefore the national party convention in September 1990 passed a resolution requiring all party members to pay an additional 10 percent in party dues for the special purpose of helping their friends in East Germany.


Notes
1.
See Ute Schmidt, "Die Parteienlandschaft in Deutschland nach der Vereinigung", Gegenwartskunde 4/ 1991:515-544. All data and information in this paper are either taken from current press sources or from interviews/correspondence with party staffers and journalists. For comparative campaign and party financing, see Herbert E. Alexander (ed.), 1989, Comparative Political Finance in the 1980s ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press); and Arthur B. Gunlicks (ed.), Comparative Campaign and Party Finance in North America and Western Europe ( Boulder: Westview Press, 1992).
2.
The Green Party has also established a foundation, but only very recently, with somewhat different priorities, and on a much smaller scale.

-72-

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