For Country, Court and Church: The Bavarian Patriots’ Party and Bavarian Regional Identity in the Era of German Unification

  • Erwin Fink
Part of the New Perspectives in German Studies book series (NPG)


Within today’s German federal system, Bavaria has been uniquely successful in maintaining a distinctive identity. Bavarian politicians define and defend Bavarian interests with the kind of unabashed assertiveness that many of their colleagues from the other German states only dream of. What are the reasons for this distinctiveness? Certainly Bavaria’s economic success ranks high among possible explanations. But cultural self-imaging and economic drive intertwine in obvious ways. One might ask whether Bavaria’s recent economic success over the past three decades is not partly the result of its citizens’ historical ability to cultivate bristly distinctiveness and to draw a highly qualified workforce from Germany — and abroad — into a cultural landscape that enjoys international repute. The cultural and social meaning ascribed to traditional Bavarian customs and costumes is invariably contested by insiders and outsiders. Yet that contest itself assures the attention of outsiders far more than uniformity and standardisation ever could. Non-Germans habitually associate Germany with beer, Sauerkraut, the Autobahn, the Oktoberfest, the Nazis, Lederhosen, ‘that fairytale castle on a mountain’, and precision-engineered automobiles. Remarkably, though, these hallmarks of ‘German’ culture are at least as much Bavarian as they are German. Hence one could inquire why one federal state should attain such status as a synecdoche for the entire country.


Centre Party Electoral Success German Unification Liberal Reform Interior Minis 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Erwin Fink

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