Grounding European Policy: Policy, Power and Parties

  • James Sloam
Part of the New Perspectives in German Studies book series (NPG)


The first chapter performs the important task of grounding SPD European policy in theory, locating the study within existing bodies of literature. This is achieved through an examination of three dimensions that together help us to understand the strategic alternatives for the party within the context of established patterns of European policy, the pursuit of German policy in Europe (channels of power), and the changing nature of political parties. The chapter starts by examining the policy framework for (West) Germany and the SPD since the establishment of the Federal Republic, illustrating the established patterns of European policy in place prior to reunification. It argues that German policy at the point of unification was identified by exaggerated multilateralism and an associated tendency to solve problems by donating extra funds to the EC coffers in deference to partner states (especially France). SPD policy at this time was firmly embedded in a cross-party consensus on European policy. This state of affairs was called into question by the climatic changes described in Chapter 2. Second, the chapter investigates the nature of German policy-making and the exercise of German power in Europe. It contends that the exaggerated multilateralism practised under the Kohl Chancellorship (and characteristic of post-war patterns of German diplomacy) oriented towards agenda-setting and milieu-shaping, but that this style of European policy was challenged by climatic change after unification. Political parties theory is used to explain the internal dynamics of the SPD examined in Chapters 5–7, and the strategic choices made by the party, by explaining the changing mechanics of party politics. While establishing more party discipline in the late 1990s, the SPD has sought to become a more efficient electoral machine, to resonate policy competence and win elections at the federal level. These three dimensions are central to understanding the development of SPD


Political Party European Central Bank European Policy European Monetary System Social Democratic Party 
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Copyright information

© James Sloam 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Sloam
    • 1
  1. 1.German DepartmentKing’s CollegeLondonUK

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