The Domestic Politics of German Unification

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

Chapter 12
The Domestic Politics of the Post-Unification Era: Politics, History, and Economy

Karl Kaltenthaler
Christopher Anderson

Writing a conclusion to this book is like writing an autobiography as an adolescent. Although a good deal has happened, we are only beginning to discern the contours of the bigger picture. But what we do know is enormously important for understanding what is yet to come. At this juncture, there are a number of things we know about German unification and the ongoing transition from the pre- to the post-1990 period. In this book we have been able to take a serious look at the foundation that has been laid and bring some order to its various elements.

We find that this book has supplied ample evidence for the view that many of the political developments of the unification process and thereafter have, directly or indirectly, been touched by two overarching issues: economic performance and history. First, many of the current political conflicts in the domestic political arena cannot be understood without reference to the importance of economic performance and economic conditions in the eastern and the western parts of the nation. Second, in order to understand the domestic politics of German unification, we need to recognize the importance of the historical political legacy with which Germans in East and West are saddled. Not only has the end of the Communist regime played a critical role in shaping the political developments of the post-1989 period, but Germans have also had to deal with the legacy of the old Federal Republic as well as the ghosts of Weimar and the Third Reich. Economics and history have touched almost all aspects of postunification German politics, such as the development of electoral politics and the party system and the task of building a new political order in the East and the West.


The Economy: Problems and Prospects

On a practical level, dealing with the East German past has to a great extent meant dealing with the accumulated problems of forty years of "real-social-

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