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Regionalist Parties and the Mobilisation of Territorial Difference in Postwar Germany

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Abstract:

Political parties in post-war Germany have traditionally been perceived as motors of national integration and protectors of social cohesion. The national-federal orientation of parties did not, however, prevent territorial cleavages from taking root within the party system. These cleavages encapsulate a number of dimensions that cut across traditional left-right thinking. Initially, they were predominantly North-South, but with unification in 1990 a new centre-periphery cleavage emerged, not only around regional economic inequalities, but also on issues of culture and identity. New and existing territorial cleavages have been used to cement the position of two parties in Germany’s party system; the eastern German PDS/Linke and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU). These regionalist parties conceptualised and constructed the issue of territory in different ways - one in national-cultural terms, the other by developing a narrative of socioeconomic dislocation and enforced cultural adaptation.

Both parties sought to represent the interests of their territories within the FRG. These ‘interests’ had a number of dimensions, including not only constitutional/symbolic demands for more powers and autonomy, but also in the form of concessions from the state and representation in federal bodies. A comparison of these two parties, and their territorial strategies, enables a greater understanding of the parties’ respective successes in Bavaria and East Germany, in addition to the general methods by which regionalist parties cement their positions in national party systems. We plan to analyse and compare the parties’ territorial demands, policies, efforts to socially construct the territory and the importance they place on having influence on national discourses. The latter is especially important in understanding why the PDS/Linke and CSU, as ‘regionalist parties’, must also develop a dual role as regionalist and federalist parties. This is particularly difficult for statewide parties to deal with as they are often unable to articulate or play the territorial card.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

parti (255), polit (129), germani (110), german (97), regionalist (97), csu (95), pds (83), region (72), eastern (68), territori (67), state (59), bavaria (57), bavarian (51), feder (51), hough (45), success (42), hepburn (41), system (36), also (33), new (32), social (31),
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Association:
Name: Seventeenth International Conference of the Council for European Studies
URL:
http://www.ces.columbia.edu


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p399690_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Hepburn, Eve. and Hough, Daniel. "Regionalist Parties and the Mobilisation of Territorial Difference in Postwar Germany" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Seventeenth International Conference of the Council for European Studies, Grand Plaza, Montreal, Canada, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p399690_index.html>

APA Citation:

Hepburn, E. and Hough, D. "Regionalist Parties and the Mobilisation of Territorial Difference in Postwar Germany" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Seventeenth International Conference of the Council for European Studies, Grand Plaza, Montreal, Canada Online <PDF>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p399690_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Political parties in post-war Germany have traditionally been perceived as motors of national integration and protectors of social cohesion. The national-federal orientation of parties did not, however, prevent territorial cleavages from taking root within the party system. These cleavages encapsulate a number of dimensions that cut across traditional left-right thinking. Initially, they were predominantly North-South, but with unification in 1990 a new centre-periphery cleavage emerged, not only around regional economic inequalities, but also on issues of culture and identity. New and existing territorial cleavages have been used to cement the position of two parties in Germany’s party system; the eastern German PDS/Linke and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU). These regionalist parties conceptualised and constructed the issue of territory in different ways - one in national-cultural terms, the other by developing a narrative of socioeconomic dislocation and enforced cultural adaptation.

Both parties sought to represent the interests of their territories within the FRG. These ‘interests’ had a number of dimensions, including not only constitutional/symbolic demands for more powers and autonomy, but also in the form of concessions from the state and representation in federal bodies. A comparison of these two parties, and their territorial strategies, enables a greater understanding of the parties’ respective successes in Bavaria and East Germany, in addition to the general methods by which regionalist parties cement their positions in national party systems. We plan to analyse and compare the parties’ territorial demands, policies, efforts to socially construct the territory and the importance they place on having influence on national discourses. The latter is especially important in understanding why the PDS/Linke and CSU, as ‘regionalist parties’, must also develop a dual role as regionalist and federalist parties. This is particularly difficult for statewide parties to deal with as they are often unable to articulate or play the territorial card.


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