Germany. At the beginning of the year, Germany had been
in a political stalemate for four months after the important
state elections in October 2018, when the government parties
had backed down considerably. It was only at the end of
January that the Social Democratic Party's 440,000 members
gave their approval to a coalition. This meant that
Christian Democratic CDU/CSU and Social Democratic SPD
could continue to reign.
CountryAAH, the election to the European Parliament on 26 May was a
great success for the Greens (Grüne), who became the second
largest party with 20.5% of the vote and 21 seats. Notably,
over a third of first-time voters voted green. The Greens
almost doubled their results compared to the 2014 election.
The government parties, CDU and CSU, were the largest but
only supported by 28.9% of the electorate, giving them 29
seats. The Social Democratic government partner SPD also
made a poor choice and ended up in third place with 15.8% of
the vote (16 seats). Subsequently, Alternative für
Deutschland (AfD) followed with 11% (11 seats), Die Linke
which got 5.5% (5 seats) and the Liberal Free Democratic
Party (FDP) with 5.4% (5 seats). A number of small parties
were also given seats in the European Parliament: Die Partei
2.4% (2 seats), Freie Wähler 2.2% (2 seats),
Tierschutzpartei 1.4% (1 mandate), Eco-Democratic Party
(ÖDP) 1% (1 mandate), Piratenpartei Deutschland 0.7% (1
mandate), Familien-Partei Deutschland 0.7% (1 mandate) and
Volt Europa 0.7% (1 mandate). The turnout was 61.4%,
significantly higher than the EU average, which was 50.7%.
After the poor election result for the SPD in the EU
elections, party leader Andrea Nahles chose to resign. She
was replaced in November by Saskia Esken, who shares the
leadership with Norbert Walter-Borjans. Both, however, are
critical of the current government coalition. Following an
opinion poll in December, after the change of leadership,
the party stood at just 11% of voter support - a new
government crisis may be on the way.
After the German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen
was elected new EU Commission President, CDU party leader
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer took over as defense minister.
She was thus given her first government assignment.
Kramp-Karrenbauer is also tipped to be the one to take over
after Angela Merkel as Chancellor.
At the state elections in Brandenburg and Saxony in
September, the right-wing party AfD became the second
largest party. In Brandenburg, the party received 23% of the
vote (23 seats in the state parliament) and in Saxony just
over 27% and 38 seats. The Social Democrats SPD won in
Brandenburg by a narrow margin and got 25 seats, in Saxony
CDU won with 32% of the vote and got 45 seats. The AfD also
came second in the state election in Thuringia at the end of
October and ended up with its 23% ahead of the CDU, which
got 22%. In contrast, the left, which ruled the state in a
coalition, consolidated its power and gained 31% of the
On January 22, Chancellor Merkel and French President
Emmanuel Macron signed a new friendship agreement in the
German city of Aachen, the so-called Aachen Agreement. It is
an update of the Élysé Treaty signed on January 22, 1963 by
French President Charles de Gaulle and German Chancellor
Konrad Adenauer. The new agreement is intended to further
deepen relations between the countries and lead to increased
cooperation in areas such as defense and security policy (a
common European military force), culture, business, research
In February, a report from European political think tank
CEP showed that Germany was the EU country that had
benefited most from the introduction of the euro 20 years
ago. Thanks to the euro, every German today is 23,000 euros
richer compared to what it would have been if the D-mark had
been left. The Netherlands is also happy with their euro,
because they have more than 21,000 euros more than if they
had retained their gold. But for the French and Italians,
the euro has meant a loss business. Had Italy retained its
lira, each Italian would have had the equivalent of € 74,000
more in his wallet. For the French, the franc had meant the
equivalent of EUR 56,000 more.
The constant shortage of manpower and a
socio-economically unfortunate composition of the population
after World War II meant that women had to be increasingly
included in the labor market. At the same time, one could
refer to the liberation perspective and thereby unite the
political-ideological goal and economic pragmatism.
The women traditionally belonged to the oppressed in
society. Already in the Constitution of 1949, their legal,
economic and political equality became entrenched. Later
this was done in other areas of the community. In the 60s,
the most important thing was getting a business education.
At the same time, great emphasis was placed on the work of
the socialist work collective.
When women were to be involved in the production process
and freed from the traditional women's tasks, institutions
had to be set up for their children. In addition, service
measures such as laundries and central shopping facilities
had to be introduced. Despite shortcomings, great progress
was made in these areas, although there were large
differences between country and city. At the 1990 East-West
Association, 50% of women in the Federal Republic worked
outside the home, while the figure was 83% in the GDR.
Despite progress in the labor market, women were strongly
underrepresented in the party and mass organizations. From
an official point of view, women's representation in public
bodies was often seen as an expression of equality and
liberation. Yet, for historical reasons, women were
considered less suitable for organizational work than men.
Statistically, the picture was as follows: The women's mass
organization, DFD, had 1.3 mill. members. The female
fraction in Parliament was 34%. It was 25% women in senior
positions in business, 20% of mayors were women, 20% of
school principals and 33.4% of judges.
In the SED, 90% of all the senior cadres were men. In the
main committee of the party, the men were largely unanimous.
In the Central Committee, in the Politburo, in the highest
party committees and in the government, there were only a
few women representatives.
Yet, women's self-awareness increased. Still fewer found
themselves in the man's ruling role. Divorce figures can be
seen as an expression of this development: in 1950 49,860,
in 1960 24,540, in 1970 27,407, in 1975 41,632, and in 1977
GDR as a transitional society
The GDR was not capitalist, but neither was socialist.
The socialism practiced differed too much from the ideas of
the classics to be characterized as real socialism. The
unions were not the mass organizations of the workers. The
plan objectives - ie community needs - was not discussed.
The three million manufacturing workers in the industry that
created most of society's values were subject to great
At the same time, it can be seen that power was taken
from capitalists and private property was abolished. The
workers had social security and safe workplaces, low rents,
cheap food and public communication, as well as health and
social assistance. But every opposition - including
socialist - was encapsulated and, like singer Wolf Bierman,
sent into exile in the Federal Republic, as the convicted
Communist and scientist Robert Havemann interned, or as
Marxist and author Rudolf Bahro condemned and imprisoned.
(See also: The Berlin Problem, COMECON, The Cold War,
Warsaw Pact, Eastern Europe).