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Launching The Grand Coalition

Launching The Grand Coalition: The 2005 Bundestag Election and the Future of German Politics

Edited by Eric Langenbacher
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 212
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  • Book Info
    Launching The Grand Coalition
    Book Description:

    This edited volume, which brings together the leading experts in German politics from around the US and Germany, combines rich descriptive data with insightful analyses regarding one of the most dramatic and important election years in postwar Germany. A variety of more specialized issues and perspectives is addressed, including the transatlantic relationship, EU policy, voting behavior and far Right parties. This book will be essential reading for students of German, European and comparative politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-773-8
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction The Drama of 2005 and the Future of German Politics
    (pp. 1-12)
    Eric Langenbacher

    I recall a conversation from a while back with a colleague. He was disdainful of German politics, stating that they are ponderous, lackluster, even boring. He prefers to follow Italian politics because of the intrigue, emotion, and, most of all, the drama. Although forced to agree at the time that the contrast between the two countries could not be greater, I was also immediately reminded of the old (apocryphal) Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times.”

    My, how times have changed. German political life in 2005 witnessed some of the most dramatic events since at least the period of...

  4. Chapter 1 The Tipping Point: The 2005 Election and the Deconsolidation of the German Party System?
    (pp. 13-28)
    David P. Conradt

    For the past quarter century the only constant in German election research has been the focus on change. Relying on a rich store of survey and aggregate data, analysts have documented a steady growth in voter volatility measured through a variety of indicators: the proportion of the electorate changing parties, splitting their ballots, deciding late in the campaign or not voting at all. But while volatility has been amply con-firmed, analysts have been far less certain about how much change must take place on the demand side (voter) before major structural change takes place on the supply side (party system)....

  5. Chapter 2 The Extraordinary Bundestag Election of 2005: The Interplay of Long-term Trends and Short-term Factors
    (pp. 29-48)
    Hermann Schmitt and Andreas M. Wüst

    The German federal election of September 2005 was an extraordinary election in many senses. Its premature calling came as a surprise, and, even more so, its result—not least with reference to the forecasts of German pollsters who largely failed to predict the outcome. While this is not our primary concern here, at the end we return to this issue. This chapter addresses the structural context of the election, illuminating the evolution of public opinion during the campaign, and discusses the result and likely consequences.² Before we begin, however, we address some conceptual and theoretical issues that guide us in...

  6. Chapter 3 The Grand Coalition: Precedents and Prospects
    (pp. 49-68)
    Ludger Helms

    In his influential article on Germany’s political institutions, Manfred G. Schmidt famously characterized the Federal Republic as a “grand coalition state.”¹ By this, he referred to the strong power-sharing character of public policy-making in the postwar German political system, which is largely a result of the exceptionally numerous and powerful institutional checks and balances. As different political institutions, such as the Bundestag or the Bundesrat, are often controlled in practice by different political parties, the German political system has been marked not only by a high degree of “institutional pluralism,” but also by a significant amount of “divided government.” To...

  7. Chapter 4 From High Hopes To On-Going Defeat: The New Extreme Right’s Political Mobilization and its National Electoral Failure in Germany
    (pp. 69-94)
    Lars Rensmann

    In the last two decades new extreme Right parties have gained considerable political successes in many West and East European countries.¹ Within the context of this international development, researchers have also observed a rise or “fourth wave” of right-wing extremism in Germany.² However, the electoral performance of extreme Right parties has been rather poor: successes are sporadic, restricted to regional elections, and limited overall. Far from entering the national parliament (Bundestag) in any election, German extreme Right parties have also failed to survive more than two legislatures in any state parliament (Landtag), which indicates severe political consolidation problems and the...

  8. Chapter 5 Angela Merkel: What Does it Mean to Run as a Woman?
    (pp. 95-109)
    Myra Marx Ferree

    The year 2006 marks almost a century after women worldwide began to gain the right to vote. It is still only half a century after it became internationally commonplace for the ideal of democracy to include both women and men as participants.¹ Yet as this year begins, we not only see Angela Merkel in office as Germany’s first woman head of government, but a variety of women leaders emerging around the globe. On January 15, Michelle Bachelet was elected president of Chile, one of the most conservative countries of Latin America, and the next day, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was inaugurated...

  9. Chapter 6 Merkel’s EU Policy: “Kohl’s Mädchen” or Interest-driven Politics?
    (pp. 110-120)
    Dorothee Heisenberg

    With every new German chancellor, analysts are driven back to their keyboards to assess whether or not Germany will choose continuity or change with respect to postwar foreign policy traditions. German policies towards the European Union (EU )¹ have always been at the intersection of domestic and foreign policy, and, over time, EU policy has become more important and has moved into the chancellor’s office to a much larger degree than other foreign policy areas.² This chapter will examine new Chancellor Angela Merkel’s words and deeds in the first months of her term, and contrast them with outgoing Chancellor Gerhard...

  10. Chapter 7 The Change in Government and Transatlantic Relations
    (pp. 121-135)
    Jackson Janes

    Since the end of World War II, German-American relations have been marked by a total of ten American Presidents and eight German Chancellors. During that half century, those relations evolved from one of conqueror over the vanquished in 1945 to one that in 1989, President George Herbert W. Bush described as a partnership in leadership. Today, almost seventeen years after the Berlin Wall fell, German-American relations represent a mixture of partnership, competition, and a vast network of political, economic and cultural ties that together make up one of the most intensive bilateral relationships on the globe. A cornerstone of the...

  11. Chapter 8 Honecker’s Revenge: The Enduring Legacy of German Unification in the 2005 Election
    (pp. 136-149)
    Jeffrey Kopstein and Daniel Ziblatt

    At first glance, any analysis of contemporary Germany would seem to require only minimally thinking about the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). For most East Germans, life in the GDR is increasingly a distant memory and unification has been a resounding success. Whether judged by productivity growth, aggregate incomes, air and water quality, or political freedom, East Germans have benefited enormously from joining the united German state. East and West Germans share similar patterns of work and leisure, they are represented by the same trade unions and employer associations, and they divide their votes among the same palette of political...

  12. Chapter 9 From the Outside In: Angela Merkel as Opposition Leader, 2000-05
    (pp. 150-190)
    Clay Clemens

    Angela Merkel made headlines for being the first woman and first citizen of formerly communist East Germany to head a major political party in the Federal Republic. Yet, her leadership was path-breaking not only for who she was, but also for what she sought to do: run the Christian Democratic Union (CDU ) seemingly without many of the assets deemed vital for that job. Even one of Merkel’s key strengths—“the capacity to radically call into question trusted systems”–seemed more likely to hurt than help in a party noted for, at most, incremental change.¹ Still, by 2006, she had...

  13. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 191-194)
  14. Index
    (pp. 195-202)