Military government weekly information bulletin
Number 101 (July 1947)
Scammon, Richard M.
Germany votes, pp. 9-10 PDF (1.2 MB)
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 RZ_ 0.. I 6N-Y S of Germany. In none c contests wag there m purely local question tendency was to highlig and general approaches M fit Ic blems. . 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 worker. 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 0 tu 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 WEEKLY INFORMATION BULLEl By Richard M. Scammon o: M 4 - 9
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