Unified Germany in Perspective

Course Contents/Slides

Unification has changed the once hyper-stable German polity more profoundly than many professional observers would have expected. More than 20 years after the fact, this seminar looks at various core features of the German system (e.g. the party system, civil society, federalism, Rhenanian capitalism) to assess the lasting impact of the FRG/GDR merger.

April 24An unexpected, unresolved unificationSchmidt (2004, ch. 6); Kitschelt and Streek (2003)
May 8The other half of Germany Fulbrook (1995, 21-56, 129-150); supp.: Childs (1983); Dennis (1988)
May 15Still “Capitalism with a Human Face”? Edinger (1998, ch. 5),Leibfried and Obinger (2003)
May 22Whatever happened to federalism?Gunlicks (2002); Auel (2008); supp: Benz (2008)
June 5Foreign policy: A new role for the 21st century?Green et al. (2008, ch. 9+10); supp.: Overhaus (2004)
June 12Who is German?Minkenberg (2003); Kruse, Orren and Angenendt (2003),Howard (2008)
June 26Right-Wing extremism in unified GermanyBacker (2000); Lubbers and Scheepers (2001)
July 3The wall in People’s HeadsDalton and Weldon (2010); supp.: Bauer-Kaase and Kaase (1996)
July 10The party formerly known as “Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands”Koß and Hough (2006); supp.: Hough, Koß and Olsen (2007)
July 17Parties, party systems, coalitionsKropp (2010); Detterbeck (2008)
July 24Review: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”Padget (2005); Pulzer (2006)


  • Assesment is based on your essay (5000-6000 words). Your essay title must be chosen from the list that I will distribute
  • The Department’s universal deadline applies. There is only one deadline, and no extensions will be granted. Should you fall ill, you must provide a medical certificate.
  • Please do not send your essay by mail. Hand it in to the office in the usual way.

Essay titles

  1. Why was dictatorship so stable in the GDR?
  2. Was the reform of federalism in the New Germany a success? How likely are further changes?
  3. Why is the PDS/Left still a major political force in Germany?
  4. Is there an Extreme Right movement in Germany? Why are the parties of the Extrem Right so weak (as compared to Austria Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, The Netherlands)?
  5. How do East and West Germans differ in their attitudes towards politics and the political community? Are these differences likely to disappear in the future?
  6. Is there an East-West-Cleavage (in the sense of the Lipset-Rokkan model)?
  7. How has the German party system changed since unification, and how can these changes be explained?
  8. Does Germany still have a ‘Social Market Economy’?
  9. Is there any evidence for a militarisation of German foreign policy?
  10. Does unified Germany feature a stable democratic political culture?

Online Textbook

Russell Dalton has made his excellent Textbook (Politics in Germany, 2nd edition) available online! And yes, if you cannot be bothered to read, there is even some video content.



Auel, Katrin. 2008. “Still No Exit from the Joint Decision Trap: The German Federal Reform(s).” German Politics 17(4):424–439.

Backer, Susann. 2000. Right-wing Extremism in Unified Germany. In The Politics of the Extreme Right. From the Margins to the Mainstream, ed. Paul Hainsworth. London, New York: Pinter pp. 87–120.

Bauer-Kaase, Petra and Max Kaase. 1996. “Five Years of Unification. The Germans on the Path to Inner Unity.” German Politics 5(1):1–25.

Benz, Arthur. 2008. “From Joint Decision Traps to Over-regulated Federalism: Adverse Effects of a Successful Constitutional Reform.” German Politics 17(4).

Campbell, William Ross. 2004. “The Sources of Institutional Trust in East and West Germany: Civic Culture or Economic Performance?” German Politics 13(3):401–418.

Childs, David. 1983. The GDR, Moscow’s German Ally. London,Boston: G. Allen & Unwin.

Dalton, Russell J. and Steven Weldon. 2010. “Germans Divided? Political Culture in a United Germany German Politics.” German Politics 19(1):9–23. perfekt für GP-Kurs.

Dennis, Mike. 1988. German Democratic Republic : Politics, Economics and Society. London: Pinter.

Detterbeck, Klaus. 2008. “Party Cartel and Cartel Parties in Germany.” German Politics 17(1):27–40.

Edinger, Lewis J. Nacos, Brigitte L. 1998. From Bonn to Berlin: German Politics in Transition. New York: Columbia University Press.

Fulbrook, Mary. 1995. Anatomy of a Dictatorship. Inside the GDR. Oxford u.a.: Oxford University Press.

Green, Simon O., Dan Hough, Alister Miskimmon and Graham Timmins. 2008. The Politics of the New Germany. London: Routledge.

Gunlicks, Arthur. 2002. “The Impact of Unification on German Federalism.” German Politics 11(3):131–152.

Hough, Dan, Michael Koß and Jonathan Olsen. 2007. The Left Party in Contemporary German Politics. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Howard, Marc Mojé. 2008. “The Causes and Consequences of Germany’s New Citizenship Law.” German Politics 17(1):41–62.

Kitschelt, Herbert and Wolfgang Streek. 2003. “From Stability to Stagnation. Germany at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century.” West European Politics 26(4):1–34.

Koß, Michael and Daniel Hough. 2006. “Between a Rock and Many Hard Places: The PDS and Government Participation in the Eastern German Länder.” German Politics 15:73–98.

Kropp, Sabine. 2010. “The Ubiquity and Strategic Complexity of Grand Coalition in the German Federal System.” German Politics 19(3/4):286–311.

Kruse, Imke, Henry Edward Orren and Steffen Angenendt. 2003. “The Failure of Immigration Reform in Germany.” German Politics 12(3):129–145.

Leibfried, Stephan and Herbert Obinger. 2003. “The State of the Welfare State. German Social Policy between Macroeconomic Retrenchment and Microeconomic Recalibration.” West European Politics 26(4):199–218.

Lubbers, Marcel and Peer Scheepers. 2001. “Explaining the Trend in Extreme Right-Wing Voting. Germany 1989-1998.” European Sociological Review 17:431–449.

Minkenberg, Michael. 2003. “The Politics of Citizenship in the New Republic.” West European Politics 26(4):219–240.

Overhaus, Marco. 2004. “In Search of a Post-Hegemonic Order: Germany, NATO and the European Security and Defence Policy.” German Politics 13(4):551–568.

Padget, Stephen. 2005. “The Party Politics of Economic Reform: Public Opinion, Party Positions and Partisan Cleavages.” German Politics 14:248–274.

Pulzer, Peter. 2006. “Germany Votes for Deadlock: The Federal Election of 2005.” West European Politics 29:560–572.

Roberts, Geoffrey K. 2009. German Politics Today. 2 ed. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Schmidt, Manfred G. 2004. Political Institutions in the Federal Republic of Germany. Oxford: Oxford University Press.