Federal Republic of Germany (1949-1990) Part III

By | October 22, 2021

From the “little one” to the “grand coalition” (1963–66)

On October 16, 1963 the Bundestag elected L. Erhard to the Federal Chancellor. Based on the “small coalition” (CDU, CSU, FDP), it sought to motivate all forces in business, culture and science to work together under the – ultimately never concretized – model of the “formed society”. Thanks to his popularity, he was able to help the Union parties to achieve a great election success in the federal elections on September 19, 1965. Taking into account moments of detente, the Erhard government sought to continue the foreign policy line of the Adenauer government; In a “peace note” (March 25, 1966) it proposed non-violence agreements with the states of the Eastern Bloc. The establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel (1965) led to the severance of diplomatic relations between most of the Arab states and the Federal Republic of Germany. Learn more about Germany and Europe, please click constructmaterials.com.

Against the background of a looming recession in the economy, the government was confronted with strong pressure from interest groups and a discussion within the Union about the possibilities of a “grand coalition” with the SPD (led by W. Brandt since February 15, 1964). In view of the divergent tendencies between the French foreign policy determined by President de Gaulle and the American foreign policy oriented towards the Atlantic Alliance, a controversy developed in the coalition between “Gaullists” (e.g. F. J. Strauss, CSU) and “Atlanticists” (e.g. Foreign Minister G. Schröder, CDU).

After the FDP ministers left the government on October 27, 1966 for budgetary reasons, Erhard saw himself on November 30. forced to resign in favor of K. G. Kiesinger (CDU).

The »Grand Coalition« (1966–69)

After lengthy negotiations between the Union parties and the SPD, Kiesinger took over the leadership of the government on December 1, 1966 on the basis of a “grand coalition”. On the social democratic side, Wehner in particular had promoted the idea of ​​a “grand coalition”. The FDP went into opposition. The cooperation of Minister of Economics K. Schiller (SPD) and Minister of Finance Strauss (CSU) succeeded in overcoming the recession and creating supposed instruments for combating it in the future with the Stability Act. The discussion about the »Emergency Laws« (Emergency Constitution) as well as the need for educational and university reforms combined with the growing criticism of American engagement in Vietnam and led to the formation of the extra-parliamentary opposition (APO), which became visible in numerous demonstrations, including militants, especially in West Berlin. In addition to left-wing extremism, right-wing extremism also increased, which was reflected in the relatively high percentage of votes cast by the NPD in state elections (up to 9.8%). In its foreign policy (Foreign Minister Brandt), the “Grand Coalition” endeavored to improve relations with the Eastern Bloc countries (establishment of diplomatic relations with Romania, establishment of a commercial agency in Prague) by modifying the Hallstein doctrine.

The social-liberal coalition (1969-82)

On March 5, 1969, the Federal Assembly elected G. Heinemann (SPD; until 1952 CDU) as Federal President with the votes of the SPD and FDP. After the federal elections on September 28, 1969, both parties, which in the 1960s had come closer to each other, particularly on issues relating to détente, Germany and Eastern politics, formed a government with a narrow majority under W. Brandt’s chancellorship. They referred the CDU and CSU, which continued to send the strongest parliamentary group to the Bundestag, into the opposition. Brandt wanted to be the “Chancellor of Internal Reforms””Dare to do more democracy” to counter the criticism of social conditions that has been intensified since the mid-1960s. The government pursued internal reforms, in particular in the form of extensive expansions of welfare state benefits, in the field of industrial relations (co-determination) and the legal system (criminal law, marriage and family law, abortion legislation). However, these reform plans were confronted with financing problems and increasing controversies (especially in education policy). Meanwhile, the Brandt government concentrated primarily on foreign policy. Brandt and his foreign minister, W. Scheel, headed the project, continuing the previous “Westpolitik” (EC and NATO area)(FDP), under the decisive influence of the State Secretary in the Federal Chancellery E. Bahr (SPD), introduced a new »Ostpolitik«. A first step by the government was the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In renouncing the Hallstein doctrine, the government recognized the existence of two German states which “were not foreign to one another”. The two German states should gradually come together through regular coexistence. Brandt met with the Prime Minister of the GDR, W. Stoph, in Erfurt (March 19, 1970) and Kassel (May 21, 1970) to make this intention visible. In order to fundamentally improve relations with the USSR and Poland, the Federal Government concluded the Moscow Treaty with the USSR on August 12, 1970, and with Poland on December 7. the Warsaw Treaty, with which she politically recognized the status quo in Europe and at the same time brought German foreign policy into line with international détente. The ratification of these treaties tied them to a Berlin settlement that was satisfactory for the Federal Republic of Germany. a. the meanwhile grown ties of Berlin (West) to the Federal Republic of Germany and the possibility of their further development recognized. With the transit agreement of December 17th, 1971, which regulated the modalities of traffic between Berlin (West) and the Federal Republic of Germany in the territory of the GDR, the Federal Government concluded its first treaty with the GDR. The agreement came into force on June 3, 1972 after serious internal political disputes with the CDU / CSU opposition.

Federal Republic of Germany 3