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.
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%.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of DEU in general and in geography as Germany in particular.
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 vote.
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 and infrastructure.
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 43,034.
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 bureaucracy.
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).
According to CountryAAH, the population of Germany in 2019 was 83,516,934, ranking number 17 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.470% yearly, and the population density was 239.6059 people per km2.