East German Leadership after Unification: The Search for Voice

  • Thomas A. Baylis


The impressive showing of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) in East German elections bears witness to its success in marketing itself as the most effective and perhaps only authentic representative of East German interests in the Federal Republic — and simultaneously to the failure of other parties and groups to do so. In some ways the PDS would seem to be a singularly unfortunate vehicle for representing East German interests. Its status as successor party to the SED, turned out of power by the massive protests in autumn 1989, has discredited it in the eyes of most West Germans as well as many East Germans. Many of its most prominent leaders stand accused of having had links to the GDR’s State Security Service, the Stasi. The party has virtually no influence at the federal level — its Bundestag deputies have been ostracised by members of other parties and the party has no significant support among the West German electorate — and to date it has been excluded from government coalitions in the East German Länder. Most of its members (over 80 per cent of whom belonged to the SED) have been barred from significant positions in the state bureaucracy. It can, and does, give voice to many of the dissatisfactions of the East German public, but it has not been well positioned to remedy them.


Federal Republic Political Elite State Secretary Political Office Massive Protest 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

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  • Thomas A. Baylis

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