The Kohl-Genscher Government 1

West Germany – The Kohl-Genscher Government Part I

In an almost unanimous climate of ostracism, with a divided parliamentary group and a disoriented and torn party, Genscher and Lambsdorff began negotiations to form a coalition government with the CDU / CSU. While many, led by Strauss, aimed for immediate elections in hopes of eliminating the FDP once and for all, leader Kohl saw a lasting prospect only in a Christian-liberal coalition. It was established, following Kohl’s election as chancellor, with only 7 majority votes, on 1 October 1982.

The price that the FDP had to pay for the change of coalition was very high: an almost unanimous hostility of public opinion which, by accusing the FDP of having ” betrayed ” the 1980 vote, implicitly showed that it did not share or did not understand. the logic of alternation in the forms of a three-party system (in which the role that the floating vote has in a two-party system, is assumed by the change of alliances of the third party); a greatly reduced political margin for maneuver (also illustrated by the loss of the Ministry of the Interior); but above all an internal crisis that seemed to threaten the very survival of the party, given the barrier of 5% of the votes for entry to the Bundestag. Much of the so-called social-liberal wing, particularly sensitive to problems of civil rights, reformism, ecology, etc., left the party, which lost a quarter of its 81,000 members.

The campaign for an early federal election was set by a rapidly shifting SPD to the left after Schmidt’s withdrawal. It was set up as a frontal attack on the new government, both in terms of foreign policy (with the no to double resolution and Nachrüstung and portraying Kohl’s CDU as opposed to détente and refractory to Ostpolitik), as well as on that of socio-economic policy, shaking the specter of a dismantling of the welfare state and a brutal neo-Manchesterism. The Greens were grafted on to this approach, with their specific themes and aiming, with good results, on the widespread discredit that the party funding scandal had thrown on the classic parties. But precisely on the front of economic issues, which have risen to central themes (from the fight against unemployment to that for the consolidation of the budget), public opinion now gave much more credit to the CDU / CSU than to the SPD, estimated more only in the field of relations with the East: but here was the reassuring presence of Minister Genscher.

It is from this overall picture that the outcome of the elections of March 6, 1983 arises: a decisive confirmation of the new Christian-liberal government, with an unexpected return, albeit reduced, of the FDP and a notable decline in the number of Social Democrats. The latter recorded their worst result after 1957, losing to the benefit of both the Christian Democrats and the Greens, who, by joining the Bundestag, conquered the role of fourth political force in the BRD.

The clear centrist and continuity indication given by popular suffrage would have found correspondence in the overall work of the Kohl government, reconstituted with a few tweaks: the Wende radical and comprehensive that many conservatives had hoped for, in values ​​no less than in daily politics, did not take place. This did not happen in domestic politics, where the FDP, despite having to make some concessions in the field of police, criminal procedures, etc., put up an overall victorious resistance against the initiatives of the most determined conservatives (especially the CSU), first of all in the field of immigration which, in the context of a particularly liberal legislation on political asylum and under the blows of the second oil crisis, had become the cause of violent controversies and widespread social fears. The rapid increase of the foreign population (from 4% in 1970 to 6.8% in 1987), the difficulties of assimilation of an immigration characterized by growing Turkish and extra-European components and,

Nor did a radical Wende take place in foreign policy, including Ostpolitik. Chancellor Kohl highlighted his desire to improve relations with the US and to dispel the American discontent and mistrust of federal foreign policy, which had accumulated between the two capitals, especially due to the continued insistence on détente even after the invasion of Afghānistān and the events in Poland. In the early years, security policy was central: the negotiation period envisaged by the double resolution expired without result, at the end of 1983 NATO passed to the Nachrüstung. Despite the massive pacifist mobilization, often violent, and the opposition of almost the entire SPD and the Greens, cruise missiles were placed on federal territory as well as that of Great Britain, Italy and Belgium, as well as Pershing II. Subsequently, it was the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) project and the issues of arms control and reduction that deeply divided West German public opinion. In government circles, especially foreigners, it was not just the rhetoric of the Reagan-administration arousing perplexity: the difference between the vastness of the interests of a global power and the limited interests of a continental state, which is still particularly vulnerable on the East-West line of confrontation, also affected.

The policy towards France was also inspired by continuity, further intensified and enlarged, starting with the relaunch, in October 1982, of the Franco-German treaty of 1963: support for the EUREKA project (European cooperation program in high-end sectors technology) of President Mitterrand, development of cooperation in the field of foreign and defense policy (in particular the agreement of February 1986) up to the establishment of a Franco-German defense and security council in 1988 and the establishment of a brigade mixed Franco-German cooperation, cooperation in the space field.

According to RELATIONSHIPSPLUS.COM, the Franco-German agreement also continued to form the solid basis of the pro-European policy of the Kohl-Genscher governments, aimed at a gradual process of unification. The drafting of the Single European Act, the creation of the Single Market in 1992 and the perspective of the European Union remain its salient points. Commitment not contradicted by the jealous defense of the role of the Bundesbank and the priority of the stability of the mark in the context of the discussion on the European monetary union and on a possible European bank. Increasing attention was paid to the other partners of the Community, in particular to the role of Italy; greater commitments are made in the Mediterranean sector.

Atlantic solidarity and European construction thus form the basis for uninterrupted continuity even in the more controversial sector of relations with the East. Continuity guaranteed by Foreign Minister Genscher, whose commitment to maintaining the threads of détente in Europe (even in the most agitated moments of global East-West relations) and whose insistence in favor of the arms reduction policy, would have sometimes met with criticism. and distrust of the BRD, but even more of some allies. By the end of the 1980s, these frictions were long overdue, while the initial tensions with the USSR had been gradually reduced and then eliminated by West German diplomacy. The efforts undertaken by federal diplomacy in favor of

The most sensational manifestation of continuity, however, occurred in inter-German relations. Even with a difference in language, Kohl continued the policy of the previous social-liberal governments, aimed at intensifying relations between the two states as much as possible, granting economic aid in exchange for humanitarian improvements and an increase in contacts. By involving what had hitherto been a champion of a hard line, that is the prime minister of Bavaria, Strauss, Kohl was able to cover on his right this policy, which culminated in two large loans for an amount of almost DM 2 billion, in 1983. and 1984: which corresponded, as a counterpart to the GDR, by the dismantling of the automatic firing systems on the border, facilitations in the transport sector, the permit to about 35. 000 people to legally emigrate from the GDR to the BRD in 1984, and an increased flow of travel. The policy of protecting inter-German relations as much as possible from the repercussions of East-West relations was pursued on both sides. A policy that, despite some setbacks such as the cancellation of Honecker’s visit to the BRD, in the same 1984, would continue until the end of the decade. Agreements in other sectors would follow in the following years, up to those relating to transport and environmental protection, with a strong financial contribution from the West, in 1989 itself. A precise limit, however, was set by Atlantic solidarity.

The Kohl-Genscher Government 1

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