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Germany

Yearbook 1998

1998 GermanyGermany. According to Countryaah, Germany experienced a regime change after the general elections in September when the SPD, the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Germany's Social Democratic Party), formed a coalition government with the environmental party Die Grünen (The Greens), led by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of the SPD. Thus ended a 16-year power struggle under former Chancellor Helmut Kohl and his CDU, Christlich-Demokratische Union (Christian Democratic Union). Shortly after the election defeat, Kohl left the party chairmanship post at the CDU, which he had held for 25 years, and was succeeded by Wolfgang Schäuble, who, for the West German side, led the negotiations for Germany's reunification.

One success for Die Grünen was that, according to the coalition agreement, the government will initiate a decommissioning of nuclear power in agreement with the power companies. However, these threatened to claim damages in excess of DEM 100 billion if nuclear power is wound up prematurely. The party's biggest success was that their frontal figure, Joschka Fischer, became Foreign Minister, the most prominent position a green politician has ever achieved in Europe.

An ecological tax shift was also on the government's agenda. This means that energy taxes are increased and employers' fees are lowered in the hope that this will create more jobs. In addition, a tax reform was agreed, which in a few years' time will give a normal family tax relief of the equivalent of SEK 12,000. The cooperation stopped somewhat within the Social Democratic Party. The contradictions were mainly between Schröder and Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine, who is also chairman of the SPD. Schröder advocates a pragmatic middle politics, while Lafontaine wants a strong, ideologically oriented state as a counterbalance to a globalized economy.

There was a general consensus that the existing civil law law should be amended, where the principle is that it is the German origin that determines who can obtain a German passport. It has so far meant that German kittens in e.g. the former Soviet Union has had easy citizenship, while immigrant children born in Germany have had a very difficult time obtaining citizenship and thus have not gained voting rights. The law led in late autumn to the Constitutional Court opening the way for a 14-year-old Turkish boy, born and raised in Germany but who had committed a long series of crimes, was expelled to Turkey where he had never been.

In the Saxony-Anhalt state elections, the right-wing extremist DVU, Deutsche Volksunion (German People's Union) received 13% of the vote. It was the biggest success that a right-wing extremist party has had in the country since Hitler's days. Shortly thereafter, supporters of DVU and the neo-Nazi NPD, the National Democratic Party of Germany (Germany's National Democratic Party) conducted a march in Rostock in the northeast where over 4,000 leather heads and others marched through the city in uniform-like clothing while waving old national-flag flags with the center cross.

In Leipzig, in southeastern Germany, nearly 6,000 people gathered on May 1 in the largest neo-Nazi manifestation since the 1960s. Claims broke out between police and protesters and counter-protesters. An investigation showed that right-wing acts of violence against mainly immigrants increased sharply, especially in the eastern part of the country.

The large German electrical technology and electronics group Siemens announced that it had set up a fund equivalent to DKK 96 million. kr. to compensate for the still-living people that the company used as slave laborers during the Nazi period. There were several examples of a tendency among German large companies to, through mergers, strengthen their positions before the currency union and benefit from rising stock prices. Germany's largest industrial group Daimler-Benz merged with American Chrysler to DaimlerChrysler. At the same time, German Deutsche Bank and American Bankers Trust joined forces to form the world's largest bank, as well as German chemical and pharmaceutical giant Hoechst negotiated a merger with the French pharmaceutical company Rhône-Poulenc.

A train accident in the northern German city of Eschede claimed 100 deaths and several hundred injured, of which 73 were serious.

1998 Germany

Western orientation

In the early 1970s, there were contradictions between the old party leader and the Soviet leadership on the relaxation policy in Central Europe. The Soviet leadership was therefore dismissed from the party leader. In 1971, Erich Honecker took over this post. This paved the way for a change in relations with West Germany. Finally, the GDR was also internationally recognized. The Berlin Agreement of 1971 is a turning point in this development. Later, a constitutional treaty followed between the two German states, membership of the UN and diplomatic relations with a large number of capitalist states.

With a constitutional change in 1974, the last common German ties disappeared. Instead, talk is of a socialist national culture and emphasis is placed on relations with the Soviet Union.

The economic system

Economically, the GDR was divided into a southern and a northern part. There is a greater population concentration and more industry in the southern districts around Dresden, Halle, Leipzig and Karl-Marx-Stadt. One quarter of the entire country accounted for half of industrial production. In the northern district around Schwerin, Neubrandenburg and Rostock, which is about as large, the percentage was only seven. The population is three times larger in the south than in the north. In the northern districts where agriculture is important, about 40% of the population lives in cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants. In the four southern districts, that figure is 50%.

It was not private ownership of medium and large companies. On the other hand, the socialist property consisted of the property of socialized companies, cooperatives and public organizations. Economic development was based on the 5 (and 7) year plans.

In agriculture, large farms were the most common. The uses averaged 4,400 acres. About 40% of the working people worked in the industry. They accounted for more than half of the gross domestic product. VEB (Volkseigener Betrieb) Leuna Werke (around 30,000 employees), VEB Carl Zeiss Jena, VEB Filmfabrik Wolfen and VEB Chemiekombinat Bitterfeld were among the largest industrial companies.

In the 50s, the average growth rate was 14%. With the transition to the intensive growth phase in the 60s, it dropped to around 6%. However, planning economics and hard work failed to clear the economic gap between West Germany. The main difficulties were the outdated machine equipment and a correspondingly high energy consumption as well as a greater need for labor.

 

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