This thoroughly revised edition of The West German Social Democrats, 1969-1982: Profile of a Party in Power contrasts the period during which the SPD was in power with its role since 1982 as an opposition party. Even though it was the senior party in the coalition governments of chancellors Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt, it did not have the influence on domestic and foreign policy in the 1970s that it had hoped for. Nevertheless, it achieved insider status, unlike its dual competitive and cooperative opposition role vis-a-vis the conservative governments of Helmut Kohl. Braunthal also discusses the short-lived East German SPD, which formed during the crumbling months of the German Democratic Republic and then merged with the West German party shortly before unification. In a period when some analysts pronounce the victory of capitalism and the death of socialism and others decry the crises among political parties, the SPD has managed to remain relatively strong. Yet the party, argues the author, will need to enhance its support, especially in eastern Germany, if it expects to regain political power in the 1990s. Such a goal cannot be reached unless it projects a modern image, minimizes intraparty discord, copes successfully with the external social and economic forces affecting its development, and has a dynamic leadership that presents appealing policy alternatives to the Kohl government. Braunthal details the SPD's organization, leadership, factions, constituent associations, ideology, voter support and elections, relations to Parliament and government, and influence on government policies. He draws from a wealth of primary sources, including unpublished German archival records and over 200 interviews with top politicians, party officials, SPD members, and journalists. Braunthal, one of the leading Western scholars on the SPD, presents here the definitive study of this pivotal party.
Introduction -- Historical Overview -- The East German SPD: A Brief Existence -- The Organization: From Presidium to Local Branch -- Membership: A Social Shift at the Base -- Leaders, Factions, and Intraparty Democracy -- The Young Socialists: Challenging the Establishment -- Social Democratic Workers and Trade Unions -- Social Democratic Women: The Road to Equality -- The Quest for an Ideology -- The Quest for Voters -- National Elections -- Party and Parliament -- Party and Government -- Domestic Issues: From Economic Reforms to Political Asylum -- Foreign Policy Issues: Ostpolitik and Defense -- Conclusion