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Military government weekly information bulletin
No. 35 (April 1946)

German reactions,   pp. 17-20 PDF (1.7 MB)

Page 19

Fig. 1 - Main Issue In Elections
German people to the occupation that
the primary function of the elections was
the transfer of governmental responsi-
bility to the German people, replacing
MG appointees with popularly selected
representatives and by the selection of
future leaders. (Ans. 1). For this large
group of respondents. the elections were,
more or less, a mechanical means 'of car-
rying out the transfer. On the other hand,
another large segment of the sampled
population implicitly viewed the trans-
fer itself as begin at stake. (An.s. 2). For
these people, the elections were primarily
a means employed by the occupation pow-
er to test the German political temper
to discover whether the German people
were ready for self-government and
democracyandtodetermine their political
dispositions along party lines. Apart from
these two groups, a sizeable number 'of
persons had no clear or articulate views
-on the matter as shown in Ans. 3 of
Fig. 1.
An effort was made- to determine
reasons for participation in the elections,
Replies indicated that a minority of
people had voted for political or partisan
reasons -  to get the right people for
office, ":to vote for the party of my
choice." Just as many people, however,
indicated that they took part merely in
the hope of bringing about a better
future, and the most frequent reasons
given for taking part in the elections was
that to do so was a moral obligation
of citizenship and patriotism. In addition,
a number of people wanted "to bring
about self-government and democracy in
Germany," wanted "to express myopinion
again," or voted "because I have always
voted" or "because my husband said I
should vote."
All persons polled were asked whether
any parties had received more votes or
less votes than the respondent had ex-
pected they would. Results clearly indi-
cated that the public, taken as a whole,
had overestimated the strength of the
.leftist parties and underestimated that of
the conservative Christian parties. The
weak showing of the Communist Party
was the biggest surprise of all, being
listed by one out 'of every five persons.
About one of every ten persons polled
had thought that the Social Democrats
would sh'ow more strength. Thus, alto-
gether, about a third -of the public was
surprised at the weakness of the leftist
In contrast, very few people (30/o) had
expected the Christian parties to show
more strength with the electorate than
they actually did. Rather, as Fig. 2 indi-
cates, about one in every five persons had
been surprised by the strength of the
Christian parties. Apparently the showing
made by the fourth major party proto-
type, the Democratic party, was not sur-
prising; very few people expressed sur-
The question
"W hat do you think was the principal issue
in these elections?"
Answer I . .,
Transfer of government to German people
(replace MG appointees with
popular representatives)    (30)
(select leaders of the future)  (10)
40 0%
Answer 2
Test of German political temper by
occupation power
(determine relative strength of
parties and political disposition
of German people)           (16)
(discover whether German peo-
ple ready for self-government) (16)
(test power of Communists)    (2)
Answer 3
To "improve situation" make con-
ditions better                       9
Other comments (vague)               8
No opinion/no answer                 9
100 %

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