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Germany at 60: Stability and Success, Problems and Challenges

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 20:00 authored by Dan HoughDan Hough, Emil Kirchner
To say that Germany’s political and socio-economic development since 1945 has been successful is a statement of the obvious. Whilst defining ‘success’ can, to use the old adage, frequently be like trying to nail a blancmange to a wall, there can be little doubt that the term is apt in this case. The German social market economy remains, despite the buffeting that the world economy has taken during the recent global recession, remarkably resilient, regularly vying for the title of Exportweltmeister (world’s most important exporting country) with China. Welfare provision remains broadly available and very comprehensive in scope. German civil society is vibrant and prickly, crime rates are low, standards of living high (no matter how they are measured) and social dislocation nowhere near as obvious or deeply-rooted as in many of Germany’s closest allies. And yet, as every analyst of contemporary Germany also knows, past or even contemporary success does not inevitably confer either a positive attitude towards future developments or indeed future success itself. No matter how much stability and objective success Germany has enjoyed over the 60 years since its founding, indisputable problems and challenges lurk very close to the surface. Germany has a rapidly ageing population and this will have (potentially dramatic) effects on future financial management and the parameters of future policy-making. Unemployment has become a serious issue not just in the eastern states, but also in significant parts of western Germany. Crafting balanced budgets remains a task fraught with difficulty. Engaging in any sort of reform project can be both time-consuming and very frustrating, whilst Germans themselves, as even the most cursory glance at opinion poll data reveals, are often quick to articulate their own worries and scepticism about where their country is going. Throw in on-going worries about ‘uniting’ two quite different pre-1989 states and a global recession, and the challenges clearly remain considerable. In this Special Issue we intend to look back over some of the key issues that have shaped 60 years of democratic politics in the Federal Republic with a mind to analysing how German elites are going to deal with some of the challenges listed above. The last 60 years have given Germans much to be proud about, but there is also undoubtedly much that should concern them. We hope that the articles here illustrate that although change can be both intimidating and daunting, there is more than enough evidence of flexibility and durability in Germany’s recent past to inspire confidence in Germany being able to move with the times.


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  • Published


German Politics




Taylor & Francis





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  • Politics Publications

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