There Are Alternatives
For the first time in the history of the Federal Republic, a Chancellor has been voted out of office in a national election. Can we conclude that German democracy has gained in self-confidence?
Yes, I think we can. Hitherto political parties manoeuvred to change coalition partners during a legislature. This was the way both Ludwig Erhard and Helmut Schmidt were forced out. Now citizens have taken it upon themselves to reject a Chancellor. In a democracy voters must believe that their decisions can at certain turning-points influence a self-enclosed and bureaucratized political world. In West Germany it required several generations for this democratic attitude really to take hold. I have the impression that this change is now effectively sealed.  Interview with Gunter Hofmann and Thomas Assheuer, published in Die Zeit, 8 October 1998.
Subscribe for just £40 and get free access to the archive
Please login on the left to read more or buy the article for £3