Sunday, October 31, 2004

Lacky's retreat and East Germans in the Media

East German singer and songwriter Reinhard "Lacky" Lakomy will give his last concert for an adult audience on Monday. In an article released by the MDR he criticized the low level of sophistication of current German popular culture and comedy. He furthermore criticizes that Radio and TV stations keep blocking artists and that this especially affects East German artists. Lakomy is one of the most creative artists of the former GDR not only writing for adult audiences but also creating music for children (many East Germans remember Schlapps and Schlumbo, Mimmellit or the Traumzauberbaum) and musicals as well as film music. And while he will retire from concerts for adults he will keep on writing music for children.

Now I have never been a fan of Lacky's music, even though I remember his song "Heute bin ich allein" very well. But something in his criticism strikes me: I miss East German musicians in the German music scene. Culture and Mass media are just two more areas where East Germans are under-represented according to the Potsdam elite study from 1995. This study has found that in mass media out of 281 surveyed respondents only 33 (11.8% ) were East Germans. In culture the representation e was only slightly higher (out of 101 surveyed people 13 were East Germans = 12.9%).

I myself am having a weekend of East German music playing my list of East German songs, including the new arrangements from OSTENde. I enjoy the poetry of the lyrics and the musicality of the songs . And I am wondering why aren't they more successful? I am wondering why people like Dirk Michaelis (who impressed me tremendously with his vocal ability) and IC Falkenberg (whose recent work Agony + Ekstase is lyrically superb) aren't more successful if they rank (in my opinion) at least in the same class as Groenemeyer, Pur and Xavier Naidoo. Are they too critical? Are text's like Michaelis' "Gott in not" and Falkenberg's "Osten 3.1" too tough for the German radio audience? Are their messages too complicated for easy listening TV or radio? Would a ratio for German music in radio help those artists to get more exposure?
I do not have answers to these questions, the only thing I know for sure is I'd love to see more quality in German culture and I'd especially would love to see more of the East German artists in German media.

"Und wenn ich durch die Wände sah,
da waren Blumen im Gras.
Doch wenn ich nur einen Schritt gemacht,
stiess ich schon gegen Glas."
(Glastraum/ City)

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Rhine Valley

Coming back from Birmingham/ England this is what I saw when we were approaching Frankfurt Airport.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

East Germans in Political Parties

Please note that the data are scattered here, they are coming from different sources and from different years, but may be able to show a trend about East Germans' participation in Political Parties. If we are thinking adequate representation of East Germans in political institutions, then we need to note that parties are in control of selecting the people they assign the positions.
The data I gathered show that East Germans participation in German parties are below their share in population, party membership is mainly West German (exept for the PDS of course).

Out of 693 894 members of the SPD approximately 30 000 are East Germans (4%)
Within the FDP (liberals) 12409 members out of 67000 are coming from the East (18%).
The greens that are now an alliance of the West German Green party and the Buendnis 90 movement for Civil rights from East Germany have approximately 3000 members from East Germany. Since there are 48 600 members in total the share for East Germans is 6%. There are no reliable numbers for East Germans in the CDU/CSU. The only note that can be made is that the CDU lost 54.4% of its members in the East since 1990. The CDU was the only party that had a direct East German counterpart prior to the reunification. Most of the members of the East German CDU have left the CDU since. It should not come as a surprise that the majority of the PDS comes from East Germany (94%) as the PDS is the successor party of the Social unity Party (SED) and has established itself as an East German people's party, spanning a diverse group of the East German population.

Surprises? Well first, the representation of East Germans in the Liberal Party comes a bit as a surprise, as it almost mirrors the share of East Germans within the population of Germany. This comes even further as a surprise, because the Liberals are pretty unpopular in East Germany, only being represented in 3 of the 5 state parliaments.

The question that arises out of the data is what is adequate representation of East Germans then in elite positions? Should it be descriptive of their share within the party? Or descriptive of the share within the population?

East Germans in Elite Positions? Here's a first

Ostblog (and yes that is a second mentioning of this blog and there are more likely gonna be more in the future) pointed me to this article. The article talks about that Ingolf Bettin has been appointed as leading judge for the state court of Thuringia. Why is this worth mentioning? 14 years after reunification Bettin is the first East German to assume a possition that high. Saxony had just in 2002 appointed a leading judge - a West German. All other leading judges in East German state courts are West Germans. All other leading judges in state courts in Germany, are West Germans.

This is very much in line with the finding of an elite study from 1997. That study claimed that in the judicial branch, East Germans have not been been able to reach elite positions. Atrid Segert, who reported on this study and tried to investigate the reasons in her article "Allokationsprozesse deutscher Eliten" (Allocation processes of German elites) argued that East Germans are underrepresented in Elite positions in general. Based on the survey that elite study did in 1997, Segert found that only in political positions East Germans were overrepresented (a claim I will get to later). In all other types of elite positions (administrative, economic, economic interest groups, unions, mass media, academia, military, culture and jucial) East Germans were underrepresented. The worst underrepresentation of East Germans was found in the administrative branch (East German quota: 2.5%), the economy (0.4%), the military (0%) and the juducial area (0%).

Acording to Segerts analysis the recruiting processes are largely responsible for this underrepresentation putting in entrie barriers that have unintended consequences to the disadvantage of East Germans. Those entry barriers are college degrees (many GDR college degrees were/ are not acknowledged as equal degree and were devaluated in the reunification process), a desire for long-term experience in the area one wants to work in (which is difficult for East Germans to achieve as most have just started careers in those institutions post 1990), a long time record of subordinating life to careergoals (which did not happen to that degree in the GDR) and a record of uninterupted continuity in their careers (which is impossible for East Germans as they had clear turning points caused by the reunification. Segert furthermore argues that only the generation that started their education post 1990 has a clear chance of correcting the underrepresentation of East Germans in elite positions. However, she argues, the background one needs to be from in order to have better access to elite positions - a good upper middle-class upbringing- is not the case for many East Germans at this point of time, as East German wages are only 60% of the average wage of West Germans and most members of that generation will have been socialized in a working class environment. So it is most likely that East Germans will remain under-represented in higher positions for a long time, more than one generation.

Now being interested in East German representation in political positions I found the claim very interesting that East Germans there are overrepresented. However taking a closer look at the results of the elite study from 1997 I have some serious doubts. The study results are based on a survey of 2341 people, 272 of which were East Germans. This already constitutes a bias towards West Germans in the study (a fact Segert acknowledges) East Germans make represent 11.6% of the surveyed in this study, while they occupy about 16-20% of the population. Furthermore, based on a sample of 272 it is hard to get reliable results.
The study looked at 499 elite positions in politics, 160 of them being occupied by East Germans. Hence the result of overrepresentation (quota of East Germans being 32.1%). The 499 positions do not represent all possible elite positions in politics, as even the Bundestag already has more members than 499. Therefore it puts the results in doubt for me any further. However, I need to look at the real data to make further evaluations.
On the other hand, even though I will be focusing myself on East Germans in the Bundestag, Bundesrat, Cabinets, Ministries, standing committees and parties, I consider supreme court positions and leading positions in unions and interest groups to be political positions. Even top level positions in the administrative branch are political positions. So the claim of overrepresentation of East German in political positions needs to be considered carefully. However, I will have to look at the data used and how they compare to my own data.

It is furthermore notable, that Segert tells us that studies on the distribution of elite positions among East and West Germans have been understudied, the 1997 study mentioned in this entry, was the only kind of data she could look at when she wrote the article (published in: McFalls and Probst: "After the GDR: New Perspective on the Old GDR and the Young Laender" Rodopi 2001).