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?


Anonymous said...

Just came over here from randy mcdonald's livejournal. Very interesting stuff (I work on Vietnam myself - another re-unified country) and I look forward to reading more.

My name is also Melanie!

Aufbau Ost said...

Thanks for stopping by, Melanie. Curious to hear more about your work (or maybe see your blog if you have one). I used to study East Asian politics (but not focusing on China), Vietnam sounds fascinating too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Melli! I like your blog!
Will check in now and then.


Miguel A. Buitrago said...

Hi Melli, I am glad I found your blog. With your permission I will put a link to it on my blogroll.

Now, on to politics. Your article is interesting, but somehow I am not surprised by those statistics. I have talked and listened extensively to people, specially in Sachsen Anhalt (SA). It seems to me that East Germans are disenchanted (feel betrayed) by the old political parties (CDU, SPD and specially Greens/Buendnis). Therefore, they tend to turn to the good old PDS. Partly as a protest vote and partly by conviction. The PDS resonates more to voters in the East. I have witnessed about three elections in SA and each time people that I knew in the end voted for the PDS. Also, younger voters did what their parents did. That was very interesting to observe.

As far as the support for the Liberals (FDP), my only explanation could be that they are very well organized in the East. They have made it a priority to focus on this area and capture some of that disappointed vote. In the last elections, months before election day I could see yellow booths in every market, event, etc. They were distributing pins, buttons, pamphlets and most importantly, talking to people. Mind you that one of their arguments that could be appealing is the curving of immigration.

Miguel A. Buitrago said...

Just wanted to pass along these interesting articles about den Osten.

Aufbau Ost said...

Miguel and Agnes, glad you found your way here. :)

Miguel (MABB): you are very right, I think it has something to do with disenfranchisement that East Germans are not highly represented in parties. I mean even those percentages can overexaggerate the true participation of East Germans, if it is based on members who are living in the East. So many politicians from the West have moved to the East past the unification.
So it is a very interesting subject to dive into and more is to come on it.