The Next Generation
After looking at the climatic changes behind German and SPD European policy in Chapter 2 and the actors and structures involved in policy-making in Chapters 3 and 4, Part III will explain the manifestations of this changing policy environment in the form of three ‘internal dynamics’ in SPD policy. The dynamics to be explored are generational, electoral-strategic and ideological, which together characterise the main developments in SPD European policy since 1990. The SPD’s capacity for change was enhanced by its position as an opposition party at the federal level for most of the 1990s. The learning process in the party’s European policy was characterised by pragmatism in three senses: in the assessment and pursuit of German interests (generational change); with regard to the greater responsiveness towards the electorate and other actors within the policy contexts dealt with in the previous section (electoral-strategic change); and, in terms of ideological flexibility, which enabled the party to fashion a new response to climatic change (ideological change). While there were limits to the party’s ability to change in all these areas, these forms of pragmatism define the dynamism in SPD European policy after 1990, and highlight the continuity and change in party policy during this period. A further catalyst for change was the transition from a party of opposition to a party of government (Chapter 3). A German Chancellor is always drawn towards foreign policy whatever their natural inclinations, due to the fact that Germany is comfortably the most populous country in Western Europe with the largest economy sharing borders with twelve states. After coming to power, the ‘formula which was found read: “continuity in substance, new accents in style”. In place of the historical pathos [author’s italics] with which Kohl had underpinned his foreign policy, was Schröder’s pragmatism.’1 The pragmatism in European policy was encapsulated by the dynamics described in the remainder of Part III and set out in Table 5.1, above.
KeywordsForeign Policy Generational Change European Policy Opposition Party Coalition Parti
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