University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Military government weekly information bulletin
Number 101 (July 1947)

Scammon, Richard M.
Germany votes,   pp. 9-10 PDF (1.2 MB)

Page 9

WITH the balloting in the three
French Zone states on 17 May
the election of German representative
bodies in all areas of Germany is now
complete. Without any prior collec-
tive decision by the Allies, the elec-
tions of these Landtage, or state legis-
latures, have almost themselves de-
limited the boundaries of the future
German states - five in the Soviet
Zone, four in the British and American,
three in the French. In all, 16 states
have now chosen legislative bodies;
with the addition of Berlin, whose
status as city, state, or zone remains
unsettled, each of the 17 major politi-
cal sub-divisions of Germany now has
an elected body as the respresentative.
of its citizens.
These 17 sub-divisions (now all popu-
larly called Laender with the excep-
tion of Berlin and the Hansestadt Ham-
burg) vary greatly in population-rang-
ing from half-a-million in Land Bremen
to upwards of 12 million in Land
North Rhine-Westphalia-and differ
in physical size, for Berlin, Hamburg,
and Bremen are small-area metro-
politan districts. Despite these vari-
ations, there are remarkable likenesses
in the various representative bodies
elected. 'Excepting the three urban
areas, all are labelled "Landtag;" all
are fairly uniform in size, the differ-
ence between the 60 delegates in the
smallest Landtag, that of South Baden,
and the 216 in the largest, North
Rhine-Westphalia, being considerably
less than the American range-35 in
Delaware to 443 in New Hampshire.
A LL 17 legislatures were elected
A   within a seven months' period of
time (13 October 1946 to 17 May 1947);
all were elected on the basis of po-
litical conflict between political parties;
all were elected by systems of propor-
tional voting, though these systems
were somewhat modified in the British
Zone and in Bremen. While the special
circumstances of the Soviet Zone and
the elimination of the Social-Democrats
there made the political picture in
Eastern Qermany somewhat different
from that in the three western zones
of occupation, voters for all these
legislative bodies seemed to be inter-
ested in the same general over-all pro-
blems: economic improvement (food,
clothing, shelter), expellees, dismantl-
14 JULY 1947
ing of p0lan
of Germany. In none c
contests wag there m
purely local question
tendency was to highlig
and general approaches
. Among the various parties contes
ing the elections the most importal
were the Social-Democrats, the Chri
tian Democrats, the Communists, ax
the group of moderate parties labellE
"Democratic" (Liberal Democrats, FrE
Democrats, Democratic Peoples' part
and so forth). The first, the SPD, und
the leadership of Dr. Kurt SchumachE
is a well-organized moderate sociali
party based primarily on the organiz
T HE Christian Democrats are nit
1like the SPD, a single politic
party with a recognized Germany-wil
ieadership; rather the various Christie
Democratic and Christian Social parti
form a sort of loose federation, ea4
state organization having comple
autonomy. Under these circumstanc
it is difficult to set down a specil
program or to identify a leader, with
various local groups of the Christi!
Democrats there are wide variatio
of policy under numbers of differe
leaders. Thus the CDU in Berlin, wi
Jakob Kaiser as its leader, is a fair
progressive group with strong Ce
tralist tendencies; alternatively,. t
French Zone parties affiliated with f
CDU tend to be very conservative
their social and economic policy ai
to be federalist or even au
in their ideas of the future
of German government. Broai
ing, wherever it may be found, f
CDU is based on the farmers,. t
church-minded voter (especially Cath
lic), and the more conservative e]
ments in the towns and cities.
The so-called "Democratic" parti
are even harder to classify. Like t
CDUj they form a loose federatic
with each state organization havi'
an independent status. Unlike the CD
they do not have even the unify
force of the churches to keep a mei
ure of uniformity in their policy.
some states, notably Wuerttembei
Baden, the Democrats are a social]
minded, progressive force; in othE
they tend to go even further to t
right than the CDU. In almost all are
the Democrats tend to be a party whi
By Richard M. Scammon
4 -

Go up to Top of Page