GERMANY

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LEGACY OF WEIMAR REPUBLIC AND WW2

Division of Germany

  • Upon defeat of Nazi Germany, Allied powers asserted authority over all territory of German Reich
  • Four powers divided Germany into 4 occupation zones/ military fronts (Allied-occupied Germany)
  • GDR: German Democratic Republic (East Germany) founded 1949 formed from part of the Soviet occupation zone of Germany
  • GFR: German Federal Republic

GFR:

  • Semi-soverign state (Katzenstein 1987)
  • Introduction of electoral threshold and ban on extreme parties
  • Strong adversion to inflation
  • Limited intervention of military
  • Multilateralism and European integration
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LEGACY OF WEIMAR REPUBLIC AND WW2

GERMANY'S BASIC LAW (CONSTITUTION)

Six main strands (Schmidt 2003):

1) Primacy of rule of law

2) West Germany as a republic

3) A federal system

4) Human-rights based democracy

5) Active social policy

6) Unification of Europe

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GERMANY AS A SEMI-SOVEREIGN STATE

  • Large number of veto players (reforms are slow)
  • Three levels of government - federal, lander (16 federal subdivisions of Germany) and kommunen (district that has local government)
  • Tendency towards coalition government (even after one-party majority 1957)
  • Importance of Consitutional Court: large impact on electoral system, reform of the federal system, shapes Germany's EU policy
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REUNIFICATION 1990

Eastern economic breakdown:

  • 8,500 firms privatised
  • Deindustrialisation
  • Unemployment up to 25% (1990-93: 4m jobs lost in East)

West:

  • Transfers between old and new Lander to cover unemployment, early retirement, infrastructures

Differing identities:

  • Different social and political attitudes
  • Identity questions after 41 years of separation (Wessi and Ossi)
  • East Germans were assimilated into West German culture, rather than the two cultures being united as equals / East Germany was incorporated into West Germany under existing West German law
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REUNIFICATION 1990

"A mental distance and disaffection that leave West Germans often wondering if the burdens of reunification were worth the gain and that leave Easteners feeling like second class citizens, with a strain of sleetive nostalgia for some of the more comfortable aspects of the old reigme"

-Hofferbert and Klingermann 2001

Westerners:

  • Large number of post-materialist voters (transformation of individual values from materialist, physical and economic (security) to new values of autonomy and self-expression)
  • Stronger partisanship (prejudice in favour of a particular cause/ group/ party)
  • Radical left traditionally less successful (more so since 2007)

Easterners:

  • More interested in social justice and equality /
  • Higher demands on state to alleviate social problems
  • More volatility and protest voting (vote cast in election to demonstrate voter's dissatisfaction with choice of candidates/ refusal of the current political system)
  • Radical left (and to some extent radical right) more successful
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PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM

Chancellor:

  • Angela Merkel
  • Chief executive (PM)
  • 4 year mandate

President:

  • Frank-Walter Steinmeier
  • Head of state (ceremonial powers)
  • Elected by Federal Convention (representation of Bundestag and states)
  • 5 year mandate
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PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM

Two chambers:

Bundestag (Federal Parliament)

  • Elected by popular vote (4 years) unless snap election called
  • Mixed-member proportional representation
  • Consitutional Court demands its involvement in key EU decisions

Bundesrat (Federal Council)

  • Members are delegates who represent the 16 Lander states (number of delegates proportional to population)
  • Additional reading of bills passed by Bundestag
  • Veto power (several policy areas where Constitution grants the states concurrent powers with the federal state)
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MIXED-MEMBER PROPORTIONAL SYSTEM

Voters cast 2 votes:

  • Candidate
  • Party list (people vote for a party rather than a candidate and seats are filled from lists of candidates according to each party's share of the vote)

First vote:

  • Plurality vote (relative majority - candidate polls more votes than any other but doesn't recieve a majority) - 299 districts, one seat per district

Second vote:

  • Proportional representation
  • Closed party lists at state (Land) level (no influence on the party-supplied order in which party candidates are elected)
  • Parties recieve as many MPs as necessary in order that % of seats closely matches % votes
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MIXED-MEMBER PROPORTIONAL SYSTEM

Electoral threshold:

(Minimum share of the primary vote which a candidate/ political party requires to achieve before entitled to representation in a legislature)

  • 5% of total vote share or win in at least 3 districts to participate in the proportional distribution (second vote)
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PARTY SYSTEM

Right:

Christian Democratic Union (CDU) / Christian Social Union (CSU)

  • "Social market economy" (system based on a free market operated in conjunction with state provision for those unable to work) but organic model of society / Christian values
  • Longer in government than Social Democratic Partt (47/ 67 years)
  • Angela Merkel (first easterner chancellor) - survived different coalition governments, Eurocrisis, refugee crisis, immigration

Liberal Party (FDP)

  • Economically and politically liberal
  • Business-friendly reform agenda (pro-privatisation)
  • Small party but coalition partner for 47 years
  • 2013: just short of 5% threshold and disappeard from Federal Parliament
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PARTY SYSTEM

Left:

Social Democratic Party (SPD)

  • Germany's oldest party/ one of the two biggest
  • Participation in Federal Government for first time 1966 (coalition with CDU)
  • Three grand coalitions (provoking rise in anti-establishment parties)
  • Schroder (Chancellor) - Third Way (combination of democratic socialism and liberal ideas)  'Agenda 2010'  - unpopular structural economic reforms - led to split 2007

Grune (Greens)

  • Founded 1980
  • Origins in student movements (60s) and social movements (70s)
  • Merged with 'Alliance'90' (Eastern civil-right movements) after reunification
  • Pacifism, liberalism, environmentalism
  • Participation in Federal Government 1998-2005
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PARTY SYSTEM

Die Linke/ The Left

  • Anti-capitalist, soft Euroscepticism, left-wing populism
  • Previously Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) founded 1990 (successful in East)
  • 2007: PDS merge with WASG (Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative) to create The Left (gained more votes in West)
  • 2013: 8% but third party in Bundestag
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IN EUROPE AND THE WORLD

Reluctant hegemon?

'Leadership avoidance reflex' (Patterson 1993)

  • Reluctance to act unilaterally in Europe and the World after WW2
  • Embracing of European integration and multilateralism (participation by three or more parties)
  • 'Co-operative hegemony' (Pedersen 1998) - leadership exercised in tandem with France

Conditions for co-operative hegemony undermined

  • Relationship with France became more asymmetric
  • Germany largest economy of EU
  • Largest net contributor to EU budget and significant voting powers in European Parliament and Council
  • Key Creditor state (lends money)

Eurozone crisis catapulted Germany into non-sought leadership role

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EUROZONE CRISIS

  • 2007: collapse of Lehman Brothers (global financial services firm) - largest bankruptcy filing in US history
  • Banking crisis spreads across Europe
  • 2009: Papandreu (Greek PM) announces government debt/ deficit figures "undercounted" - national debt grew over 110% GDP
  • 2009: investors fear Greek default (fear spreads across Eurozone... Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus, Spain, Italy)
  • Debt and financial policies are national but currency is common (cannot be devalued by affected countries)
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EUROZONE CRISIS: GERMANY RELUCTANT HEGEMON?

Germany could act as hegemonic stabiliser through provision of public goods (Paterson 2011)

  • Promoting German internal consumption (through lowering taxes and increasing investment) to help other countries sell products abroad ect..)
  • Incentivise lending and financial flows towards struggling economies as last resort during financial crises ect.

German position:

  • Ordo-liberalism (stable framework for market forces to flourish: competition, price stability, fiscal restraint, importance of rules) supported by main parties
  • No increase in public investment
  • Conditionality (conditional bail-outs)
  • Depoliticise budget rules (pushing for automatic sanctions for countries with debt higher than 3% GDP)
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EUROZONE CRISIS: GERMANY RELUCTANT HEGEMON?

Consequence:

  • Lack of legitimacy among population of debtor (owe money) countries during Euro-crisis
  • Hegemonic roles need to be seen as legitimate (Clark 2011)
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ECONOMY

Post-war growth success:

  • Development of German model (coordinated economy)
  • Rapid growth, high salaries, low unemployment

Stagnation:

  • Slow growth and high unemployment (pressure from globalization, reunification, Euro and high interest rates) in 1990s and beginning of 2000s

Reform (2000s) - Schroder, SPD, 'Agenda 2010':

  • Welfare system reforms to increase labour market flexibility (e.g. unemployment benefits, social security, mini jobs)
  • Subsequent growth but more segmented labour market with growing inequality
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GERMANY'S REACTION TO EUROZONE CRISIS

From limping economy to economic miracle?

'Agenda 2010' percieved as main cause but...

Eurozone crisis: Germany's relative advantage meant fast economic growth (cheap Euro, low interest rates, devaluation decreased labour costs)

Ordo-liberal consensus:

  • Germany a model of painful reforms other countries did not want to go through
  • Crisis seen as consequence of mismanagement and failure to reform (moral hazard - if help them, structural problems will not be tackled)
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GERMANY'S REACTION TO EUROZONE CRISIS

Merkel's limited room to manoeuvre:

Public opinion

  • Support for Euro and EU has not declined dramaticially
  • But low support for financial transfers (76% against in 2010)
  • Very low trust in European Central Bank during crisis

Semi sovereign state - Role of veto players

  • Resistance of coalition partners (FPD and CSU against Eurobonds, financial transfers)
  • Importance of state elections for Bundesrat
  • Constituional Court
  • Central Bank against any measure which meant breaking no bailout clause of Maastricht Treaty
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REFUGEE CRISIS

"Today almost 20% of the German population has a migrant background, of which 12.3% are German citizens" - Green 2014

Immigration policies:

Tight ethno-cultural immigration model

  • Ethnic Germans v non-nationals: ethnic Germans automatically given citizenship until 2000 reform, many return to Germany after 1990s but do not count as immigrants
  • In some major cities up to 30% of the population does not hold a German passport
  • CDU/ CSU strong supporter of this model

Traditionally very positive attitudes towards immigrants

  • Millions of Germans expelled from Central and Eastern Europe in 1940s
  • Migrant workers needed to keep up with the export-oriented model (skills shortage) and social market economy (low fertility rates and ageing population)
  • Far right groups not popular (spite of occasional breakthroughs at state level)
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REGUGEE CRISIS

Moral leadership:

  • Facilitated by domestic factors (no relevant veto player opposing, positive public opinion)
  • Germany breaks EU rules set out in Dublin Convention to take on main humanitarian burden
  • Dublin Conventiion: first point of entry into EU determines state responsible for processing asylum applications
  • Impossible for Italy, Greece and Hungary to process all applications

Failure to gather complete support:

  • Eu Commission's (supported by Germany and France) mandatory quota system
  • Opposed by main Central and Eastern European countries (Slovakia, Romanina, Hungary)
  • Domestic obstacles increase during crisis (moderate but significant surge in right-wing populism)
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POLITICIZATION OF IMMIGRATION

PEGIDA - Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West

  • Founded in Dresden 2014

Increasing negative attitudes towards asylum seekers and immigrants (from non-EU countries but also Eastern Europeans)

Alternative for Germany (AfD)

  • Started as right-wing populist party
  • Populist, authoritarian and nativist (since 2014)
  • Opposed to bail-outs and Euro (but not anti-EU)
  • Anti-immigration (anti-Islam 2014)
  • Takes advantage of refugee crisis
  • Relatively successful in state elections
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CONCLUSION

  • Germany's geographic, political, economic position makes it suitable to become Europe's benefactor (gives money/ helps cause) hegemon
  • Reluctant to play hegemonic role (historical reasons and domestic factors)
  • Timid attempts to play leadership role have failed (has to be demonstrated at all times to gain legitimacy)
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