Special of the week; German Election Preview
National Educational radio in cooperation with Radio New York worldwide presents the German election preview the first of two special programs previewing the fifth German election since the end of the Second World War which will take place on September 19th of this year. This election coverage of which will be broadcast by many of these national educational radio network stations and radio New York worldwide will come to our listeners from Cologne in Bonn in Germany and from New York City. An election that is deemed by many the most crucial in Germany's post-war history on September 19th almost thirty nine million citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany which is the official form of referring to West Germany will go to the polls to cast their votes they will vote for four hundred ninety six deputies for the Bundestag the leading House of the German parliament. The party that has the most votes in the election will be given the
opportunity of forming a government. And in the case of this election the choice lies between a government headed by Ludwig Erhard who is the incumbent and leader of the Christian Democratic Union known as the CDU or mayor villi brunt of West Berlin who is the head of the Social Democratic Party. The SDP challenging the ruling government party in a real way perhaps for the first time in the 15 years since the end of the war. To refresh the memory of those who do not recall all of past German history since the end of the war it was Konrad Adenauer leader of the Christian Democratic Union who was Chancellor until his resignation just two years ago and his turning over of the party reins to the former minister of economics Ludwig Earhart Earhart now still heading the party is given by many observers the biggest chance of winning the election on September 19th. But again it will be close. There are those who predict a Social
Democratic Party victory for Bryant. One of the interesting features of the German election among others that will be covered in this and subsequent programs is the method by which the Germans go to the polls to vote. The electoral system this process is described for us now by Dr Otto Shimer professor of Government at Columbia University in Germany a man has two roads. He words for a party but a party list which comprises a district that would state as a stateless see the roads for the stateless. But he also would for an individual candidate of his conscription now so he has to vote. Now see a way to get he could split his tickets if he could work from party A. Let's save as a Christian party and for the ticket and for the individual. This weekend if you could would first sort of demagogue
it happens but in 90 percent of cases again if you're not split his ticket now puts absolute if there's a put up the list is by party conventions the party conventions is a bigger this League Convention our look at convention makes the lists most Very often the people you appear on. Both he would be a look a candidate and he wasn't a proportion of this seat but there isn't much fighting I mean this is the kind of as the French would call it goes ours. What type of people to put on the list. Suppose you aren't a Christian party it's a Christian Democratic Party and your partial list. Well it will have some politicians professional politicians it District and it is a secular but also look at agricultural organization would be off maybe even if in some districts is set up as a butcher of organization would be safer. Sometimes an industrialist busy or labor union
Secondly a case of a very fair official is a source of Democrats I think it's a little more unified. Several be a union more often that other union official and journalists and a professional politician. Dr. Scheiner goes on to make comparisons between the German system and the American system. As you remember in the militant's a congressional party doesn't necessarily vote as a unit but it is in the United States as you realize it's much more important to know whether senators coming for me coming from Arkansas or the news coming from New England and send you know he wrote as a new would probably get along Bill. That's is different in Europe still parties especially in England and Germany are also disciplined bodies they say. The parties had much more say so look members of the party the parties have much more say in selecting the people who go to parliament. But not only the selection
executive committees the parliamentary caucus. If they determine how you should vote in let's say 98 of 97 percent you won't as it has been determined by the caucus. So does that extend parties in Europe are much more coherent much more coherent unit. Now this also has something to do with a different very different. It is a presidential is a parliamentary government. The member here is a president that's one political unit and Congress as such. Never mind Democrats of the public that is not what you wanted. Now this is different in Europe. In US the minister president our prime minister president or chancellor in Germany or prime minister of England is clearly see not only is a no no but acting had off the governing party is it. So if his party wins he goes into government and his party has to follow him. Sometimes he might photos a party or whatever is so obvious.
And again it's a great majority of the cases he's a leader of the party who becomes his party's weak Tory as prime minister. Our chancellor you see. Act in unison determines a policy to get to that point is the split which characterizes American policies often between Congress and president does not exist. Now since I think is a fundamental difference which persists even so is the party system inserts. Has the European party system is somewhat new not as American as it has been 15 or 20 years ago when the votes are finally counted that is both lists. It is clear not only which party has the majority but who will represent the various parties in the Bundestag and it is in the Bundestag that the actual election of a chancellor takes place this Chancellor will be elected within 14 days and undoubtedly the Chancellor will be
either Mayor villany brand of Berlin or the present chancellor Ludvig Ehrhardt Eric Mendi the head of the third political party the free democratic party your f DP. Well undoubtedly for a part of a coalition government if the results are close. A recent editorial appearing in The New York Herald Tribune entitled West Germany's critical election said that the campaign in West Germany in anticipation of the general elections next month is splitting about as many hairs as the usual American presidential race and for very much the same reasons the Herald Tribune goes on to say that although the main opposing parties the Social Democrats of the Christian Democrats should in theory represent quite opposing theories of government in practice they have narrowed their real differences narrowed because of the environment of German political life as a central point in the cold war between east and west. In the second program of the series we will go into great detail
on the issues that exist between the two parties and the positions held by the three major party leaders. But right now a little background about the three parties that are contending in this election. The German constitution requires all political parties to give a public accounting of their funds and to conform to so-called democratic principles a political party which constitutes a threat to the Federal Republic or adheres to aims which undermine the order in the country can be declared unconstitutional. In recent years the number of fringe political parties in Germany has been reduced to a bare minimum. Some time after the war there were as many as 18 parties but in the last election only the three largest parties were represented in the Bundestag the c d u. The SPDC and the FPD these three parties are still the largest to present a list of candidates. What is the history and background of these three parties. First the
Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian counterpart known as the Christian Social Union. These parties were formed almost immediately after the end of the Second World War. They came about as a result of the Nazi persecution against the churches which united Protestants and Catholics in a common cause. The fusion of Catholics and Protestants in a political cooperative effort has been a vast historic consequence for German democracy and in a sense has occurred in other countries and Europe. The party is aware however of the secular character of modern society and does not seek to create a church oriented state under Konrad Adenauer his leadership the CDU was successful in forming a government from the very start. Last year the CDU and its Bavarian counterpart the CSU had a membership of about three hundred and twenty five thousand. The CDU and the CSU have largely the same aims and party platform. These include the reunification of Germany in peace and freedom. The settling of
Germany's borders by a peace treaty negotiated between the world war two victors and a reunited Germany. At hearings to end defense of the principles of the free world through the federal republics link with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and their other major aims in the area of political and economic and cultural unity of Europe are of course well known. However for today's program we call upon a number of party leaders to describe some of the aims and policies of their parties. First let's go to the ruling party and to one of the leaders of the ruling party the Christian Democratic Union. The views of Eric Blumenfeld the chief of the CDU in the north German city of Hamburg. You know if a political or political party is in power. It's always criticized much more than a party which is not in power. So it doesn't astonish me that there has been ace up and down in the Gallup polls showing the man showing the sympathy
of the people towards my party. But on the whole you know I myself I am ready. I don't have any I don't have much doubts that September 19th will prove to be another victory for my party because if you come to Germany and look around you see how successful this policy was all right. There have been downs and valleys in the popularity of the party but if it comes to the actual day of voting I believe people think and I believe people will find out that one should not experiment too much. This is the one the one and I would give you. He goes on now to explain his view of the major issues in this election. There is the question of social legislation. The SBT is desirous of introducing more and more
are of what you would call the people's welfare state measures of that extent. And they are also inclined to give the industrial development more of a push as against the agricultural policy in production in the country. I think it's fair to say that CDO does represent the farmers vote very much larger extent than the SPDM. Is this a significant percentage in your country. It is still a significant percentage. It is up to 20 percent of the electorate don't and therefore we have very mindful of the farmers vote quite apart from the fact that we need their production and every country in the world needs the farmers support to remain in government. Eric Blumenfeld CDU member from Hamburg. The state of Bavaria one of the Lunts or states of Germany that
participate in the Federal Republic has always had a special position inside Germany by virtue of the individuality of its people and of its own past history and perhaps as a result of this special relationship. But Varia has its own branch of the CDU called the CSU or the Christian Social Union. One of the leaders of that party is Byron Gutenberg Germany and the other now and Germany under the Chancellorship off hasn't really changed because there's a political thinking that a political philosophy behind. I don't know that was it at analysis time. And there still is the same political philosophy behind and supporting. Yeah it's government and this political thinking mainly is the thinking of the party I come from. I mean in terms of international policy that this philosophy means and strives at
a strongly pro Western cause of Germany. This is almost the main strain of our thinking. We believe. That this Germany must be bound to the west must be bound to this great United States of America. That this Germany must be a part of a Europe which matches towards unity as your President Johnson has stated only a short time ago. In other words we believe that this Germany's never shall never be separated again from western thinking from western way of life from Western political. Philosophy barons who Gutenberg a leader of the Bavarian wing of the Christian Democratic Union. What about the opponents referring once again to that editorial in The Herald Tribune of New York on the two party system in Germany. The Herald Tribune states it is not easy to tell just what changes a social democratic government would make in West Germany's economic
structure which already has a good deal of what most Americans would consider socialism in foreign affairs to both Erhard and brown and are committed to such major themes as NATO and the maintenance of a free West Berlin. But there are differences in emphasis and as the Tribune goes on to state run for example wants direct negotiations with Moscow for German reunification. The government is opposed to that position. What about the history of the SPDC the Social Democratic Party. It has six hundred and fifty seven thousand members and thirty nine percent of the seats in the present Bundestag. You'll note the larger number of members in the Social Democratic Party to those in the Christian Democratic Union does not have a direct relationship to the outcome in the election. The SPDC has functioned up to this point as the parliamentary opposition to the present coalition government of the free democratic party with the CDU. The SPDC has a long political tradition in Germany
that goes back to the 19th century with its first political program written in 1875 until 1959 the SPDC opposed most of the decisions adopted by the parliamentary majority on issues affecting foreign policy defense and economic affairs. However the 1959 Godas back program of the SPDC embodied radical change in the party's outlook. Here it is described by one of the SPDC leaders Dr vity. I care since our last pro-gun's as formed in 1925. It was obvious that after the development of the Communist road of the fascist Hitler totalitarianism to pogo the party needed a new program new program has been accepted nearly unanimously. Three hundred and twenty four votes against 16 only. And you pro-gun states the principles of a democratic socialist.
But peace freedom justice and solidarity that means in terms of practical policy supporting the United Nations supporting disarmament. Supporting more social justice in the distribution of income and property in the social community. Freedom against a need to attend a Kenyan government and social institutions organisations the outstanding personality the name known to most as the member of the Socialist Party is of course the mayor of West Berlin Billy brand mayor Bryant of course stands very strongly on the confrontation point of the Cold War and yet his party is in favor of disarmament and peace and perhaps a
rapprochement with the Soviet Union how do these two factors jive what specifically is your foreign policy with regard to the Soviet But I don't think that anybody is speaking about it I know since a communist decided to lead Jewish traditions between the communist and the other two is quote coexistence. That's in fact a mini mountain off living to get out that this is just not denying the existence of any other. Now we have to accept this because because for us to come in this but what we want for us is. In that allegiance with the communist world first of all not to give in to any demands of the communists. And you will see that it's a position of Festen value in value much. In just completing the agreement. That it demands which have been put forward by the Western democracies. And that means it's best
done ballin this bunch John. We don't accept the status of a free city as Khrushchev has defined it. We've won with the vest on value Nash should fall on their own fate in their own town. That your access to Western values should not be disturbed by anybody. And troops should have that I had to stay in valiant as long as no better lesions are possible. That was Dr villi Eichler in a description of the party games recorded during a recent visit to Germany. In foreign policy the go to break program of the Social Democratic Party supported defense measures rejected nuclear arms for Germany and called for the reunification of the country so that the entire nation can determine the tenor and form of our government and society. However the present leader of the Social Democratic Party the mayor of the city of West Berlin has brought his own stamp to the policies of his party and many
have stated that Villy brand has made the party more similar to the government party in that he has been placed in the position of being a major spokesman for all of Germany in its defense of the rights of West Berlin. Much of that of course familiar to Americans who recall villi Brandt's appearance with the late President Kennedy in the city of West Berlin and during the Berlin wall crisis with the then Vice President Lyndon Johnson. What about that third party the free democratic party known as the f DP in 1045 the liberal conservative point of view was adopted by several newly formed political groups which evolved into the FPP. The first DP leader was théodore hoists who later became the first German president. Political tendencies in the DP vary in its different regional associations but certain basic premises are common to all its groups such as the advocacy of a less a Fair Economy a peace treaty for a united Germany based on the right of
self-determination for all Germans and the rejection of denominational schools a principle of educational policy which is a state concern and says the FPP lies outside the province of the federal government. The party has shared in a coalition government with the CDU on three occasions twice between one thousand forty nine thousand nine hundred fifty six and again in 1961. The FPP in the Bundestag of this past year the fourth Bundestag had 67 seats its leader Dr Eric Monday remains an outspoken spokesman for the views of his party and for his government in his role as vice chancellor to work on your own via in the hope to improve to a politician but I would have to show on your own. Zeke went a bit too on as regards the Christian Democratic Union. They are the main differences between the free
Democratic Party and the Christian Democratic Party and the cultural field the field of cultural policy because the Christian Democratic Union in the intellectual and spiritual approach to these problems is favoring a strong Christian influence and sees these problems under a very strong Christian aspect whereas the free democratic party a liberal party in the British sense of the word is free from any dogmatic approach and is not in favor of any church clerical influence on politics. As regards economic and social policy we have the same approach both the Christian Democratic Party and the free democratic union. And in the field of foreign policy we together with the Christian Democratic Union favor a strongly Western policy and we together with the Christian Democratic Union have the responsibility for all the measures and all the steps that are taking in this particular field. As regards the Social Democratic Party here the main
difference between us and the other shows are Democrats are in the economic and social field because we are favoring free trade or free enterprise. We are against any sort of derision more intervention into the economic life of the nation. We are in favor of free enterprise. Also in the American sense of the word as we find it in the in both parties of the United States of America. Now in the cultural field we have something in common with the Social Democratic Party because the Social Democrats too are not in favor of any clerical or church influence on politics. Document it has been said in looking at the three parties in Germany at least from an American standpoint that the free Democratic Party was the most right wing of the German parties in other words in American terminology the most reactionary I wonder if you would comment on this. Perhaps this is a misinterpretation of the true position of the party.
Zeit begin winds up with facts. I guess it's all he does for Aga Khan talk about that city who got hyped on the site since the beginning of our political work in our political activity we have always been staunch supporters of the idea of Germany's reunification and we had some controversies with the Christian Democratic Union especially in connection with the song question and from that time. They ate some reproaches that where sometimes levelled against us and it was said that we were rather nationalistic minded but I think any distinction between right wing and left wing is obsolete today and I feel we are in the middle of somewhere in the center between the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democrats. Dr Mendo explaining some of the principles of his party but on a recent visit to New York City in which Dr. mandate participated in a commemoration of
the June 1953 uprising in East Berlin he expressed his feelings for the entire German government and young plants of reunification is the supreme goal of the policy of the German Federal Government and of all three parties now represented in the German Bundestag. The preamble to our Constitution states the entire German people is called on to achieve by free some of the terminations and the unity and freedom of Germany the victorious Western powers United States of America United Kingdom and France who exercised supremest already in Germany when the basic law was created in May 1940 nine agreed to this basic law. The communist regime in East Berlin does not have the right to declare itself a second German state. Reunification of Germany is not a national end in itself for the German people.
Rather it is inseparably tied in with the basic freedoms of a democratic order and a state based on the rule of law. We reject any idea of German unity within a communist people's democracy. Unity and freedom in the sense of democratic order and a state based on the rule of law and on the basis of self-determination by the entire German people are inseparable elements of the policy of both the German government and of all three parties represented in the Bundestag whether they are government or opposition parties. DR ERIC Mende a leader of the free democratic party. Thus the three major political parties that will contend in the September 19th election. In next week's program in this series we will learn of some of the nuances of differences within each party and the major issues in the campaign. You will also have the opportunity to meet through tape recording the three major party leaders. This has been the first of two special programs
- Special of the week
- German Election Preview
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- APA: Special of the week; German Election Preview. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-6h4csh85