GermanyOn October 3, 1990, the states of the German Democratic Republic (EastGermany) shed their last ties to their Soviet created structure and joined theFederal Republic of Germany (West Germany). The 23rd article of West Germany’s1949 constitution, the Basic Law, had been drafted specifically to allow forsuch an arrival from the East.
But as the 1980s drew to a close, few Germans oneither side of the border expected it to be used in their lifetime. Yet, in lessthan a year the beginning of an upsurge of popular protest came together againstthe communist regime in East Germany and the formal unification of Germany onWest German terms. At a simple level, the constitution may be seen as a representation ofthe traditional German desire for clarity and order, applied to the rights andduties of the individual. It can also be described as a way of ensuring that theevents of the 1930s, particularly the rise of facism and dictatorship, willnever recur. As a result of historical roots in West Germany and past abuses bycentral government, Germany is a federation. The powers of the states cannot bereduced.Order now
Each of the federal states and Berlin has its own constitution, ademocratically elected Parliament, a government, administrative agencies andindependant courts. However, states are binding to the federal constitution, thefederal constitution is binding upon the states and the federal parliament isresponsible for major legislation and policy. The state parliaments mainresponsibility is in two major policy areas: education, and law and order. Administration of federal legislation is mainly the responsibility of the states,allowing for greater consideration of local needs and issues.
This system ofgovernment ia also intended to bring government closer to the people. In manycases, state powers are delegated further to local authorities. A further area of responsibility for the states arives from theparliamentary structure. The legislative body is the Bundestag, but theBundesrat (anupper house representing )the states must approve most legislation. Each state has between three and five votes in the Bundesrat, dependingon the size of its population.
Members of the Bundesrat are appointed by thestate governments for their duration within the state government. Since stateelections are held continually during the term of federal parliament, themembers of the upper house may alter during the life of a federal government. The approval of the Bundesrat is required for certain types of legislation,Particularly the budget and those affecting the states. Differences are usuallyovercome by a joint committee from the two houses. The lower house, or the Bundestag, consists of a minimum of 656 deputies.
The Bundestag has a speaker, or president, usually elected from among thelargest parliamentary group. It has three main tasks: to act as the legislativebody, to elect the federal chancellor, and to control government activity. Anychanges to the Basic Law requires a two-thirds majority in both houses ofparliament. Thus the opposition parties can prevent amendments to theconstitution through their representation in either the Bundestag or Bundesrat. The electoral system, finalized in 1956, is designed to both provide agovernmentrepresenting the wishes of the people and proportionalrepresentation. Candidates are elected by a majority vote in 328 constituenciesof roughly equal size.
Each state is allocated a quota of MPs for each party,derived from the second, or party vote. The difference between these numbers andthe numbers of directly elected representatives is then made up from party lists. A party can win more seats on the directly elected segment of the vote than thenumber given by the party list results, in which event the size of the lowerhouse is enlarged. This provision was used in 1990, with the addition of sixseats. To prevent fragmentation, a party must secure either three directmandates or 5% of the total vote to be represented in parliament. This resultsin a barrier to the development of new parties, which must fullfill the 5%criteria without the help of representation in parliament.
Also, when thepractice of vacancies exist in parliament the positions are filled from theparty list of the previous election rather than by a by-election, hampering newor small party formation. In the 1990 elections the small, and largely new, EastGerman parties were allowed, for on time only, to form umbrella groups, side-stepping this constraint. However, state elections occur almost always once a year allowingparties to try and gain representation in a state parliament, often byconcentrating their efforts. The lower house is elected for a fixed term of four years and earlyelections may only be called in specific circumstances.
The chancellor (head ofgovernment) is elected by the Bundestag on the proposal of the federal president. In practice each of the main parties announces its chancellor candidate beforethe election, making the task of the president somewhat of a formality. Onceelected, the chancellor nominates his or her cabinet for presidential approval,but is still personally responsible to parliament. Individual ministers cannotinitiate a vote ofno-confidence. A government can only be voted out if theopposition can establish a majority for what is known as a constructive vote ofno confidence. In other words, the opposition must be able to provide a workingmajority in favour of a new government.
This occurred in late 1982, when thesmall Free Democrat Party changed itsfollowing from the ruling Social Democratsto the Christian Democrats, enabling the Christian Democrats to form a coalition. The ability of a government to resign in order to call early electionsis also restricted to cirtain circumstances. When the new government of theChristian Democrats and Free Democrats formed after the events of 1982 theydecided early elections would be appropriate. However, this decision was forcedto be brought up before the constitutional court, and only because it was theparties only tactic was it allowed.
Although the federal president performs some of the usual formalfunctions of a head of state, including signing treaties and following theprocedures for appointing the chancellor, the role is basically ceremonial. Allpresidential orders require the counter-signature of the chancellor or relevantminister. This obligation is concerned with the alleviating a number of theproblems which arose under Germany’s constitution of 1919 which gave thepresident too much power and not enough to the parliament. The president iselected for a five-year term by the full Bundestag and an equal number ofdelegates from state parliaments. In the past the election has usually been aformality.
Richard von Weizsacker, formerly Christian Democrat mayor of WestBerlin, was elected president in 1984 and re-elected in 1989. His second, andfinal, term comes to an end in May 1994. Although usually a former politician,the president is expected to stand above party politics. In the summer of 1989 the German Bundestag passed the so-called Stageone Postal Reform which came into effect on January 1, 1990. The reformsincluded a division between jurisdictional and regulatory functions andentrepreneurial functions. The reform also resulted in associated businesssectors making up telecommunications, postal services and postal banking.
Theaim of these reforms was to allow for more competition, hoping this would leadto more innovation and development in the telecommunication sector. The reformsrepresented to many in Europe a tremendous liberalization of the Germantelecommunications market. Under the new structure, the Telekom branch ofDeutsche Bundespost (DBT) was granted a network monopoly. All other sectors ofthe telecommunications market, including mobile and satelite communications,which both legally belong to the monopoly were liberalized. Gradually, licenceswere sold to private enterprises in these small and limiting areas of themonopoly.
Within the framework of its economic capabilities, Telekom is legallybound to provide both the infrastructure and the infrastructure services. As the new Telecommunication structure was being omplemented theunification of Germany began, delaying the objectives of the postal reform. ManyMinisters used the successfull expansion of Telekom as a means of recognition,while postponing a rapid seperation of the political and entrepreneurialfunctions. At the beginning of 1990 Telekom had only just started changing froma public administration to an undertaking based on entrepreneurial basedorganization. Telekoms actions during and immediately following unification werestill largely focused on the objectives and procedures of the old Germany. Therefore, there has been no real debate between Telekom and the FederalMinister of Posts and Telecommunications (BMPT) on what gudelines Telekom shouldfollow when investing in the new federal states of the East.
Telekomfrom mustdecide whether it should follow its original political standpoint or its newentrepreneurial approach, or whether the two even differ. Such a judgement isnot only desirable, but necessary to determine where the responsibilities ofTelekom lie. In principle, the regulatory political and organizational structure setupvalid in the Western German telecommunications sector was also binding in thenew federal states of the East on October3, 1990. This was decided even thoughthe conditions were very different in the former GDR due to the poor state ofdevelopment of telecommunications.
The rapid installation of a basicinfrastructure was the priority in the East, while the emphasis in the West waspromoting network and service innovations. Nevertheless the BMPT did littleafter unification to change the regulatory political framework in thissectorregarding the circumstances existing in Eastern Germany. The monopoly onterminal equipment which had been abandoned in the middle of 1990 in WesternGermany was maintained in Eastern Germany until the end of 1991. The ban onprivate agencies offering satelite communication services was eased in mid-1990.
At first, certain conditions were attached to issuing these special permits, butthey were lifted in March 1991. These exceptions to the voice telephone servicemonopoly are limited until 1997, and have not had any major influence onaccelerating the expansion of the telecommunication service offered. Only a fewprivate satellite service firms have offered appropriate services as a result. In connection with the rapid improvements in the possibilities for East-Westcommunication, considerations of cost and quality control have created themajor obstacle to a larger range of services offered by private investors. In June 1991 the BMPT also extended the licence of Mannesmann Mobilfunk,the second cellular mobile radio operator chosen for Western Germany in December1989, to cover the whole of Germany.
At the same time it ordered that Mannesmannwas to provide access to the D2 network for 90% of the population and 75% of thearea in the new states in the East by the end of 1994. The two mobile telephonenetworks in the 900 MHz band, D2 and D1, which were in the process of beingdeveloped just after the political turning point, were in well suited toproviding a considerable expansion in the services offered in Eastern Germany. With respect to the problems encountered by the federal government infinancing German unification, a special contribution to the federal treasury ofapproximately DM 3 billion was imposed on Telekom. The BMPT was able to saveTelekom and its customers from a greater financial burden that had originallybeen planned. In reality, however, this special contribution imposes anadditional financial burden on Telekom and makes the telecommunication servicesit offers in Germany more expensive. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and of the Communist regime at theturn of 1989-90, it was not to clear if the developments would end in a rapidunification of the two Germanies.
Only months before the summer of 1990, whenGermany was to be officially united, a many decisions were taken in East andWest Germany that greatly affected the German telecommunication sector. Immediately following the political turning point, as early as the beginning of1990, joint committees were set up between the BMPT and the GDR ministryresponsible, and between DBT Telekom in the West and Deutsche Post Telekom inthe East. The main purpose of the committees was to ensure the rapid developmentof the telecommunications infrastructure in the GDR and guide a compatiblemerger of the two organizations’ regulatory bodies. By March of 1990 (longbefore German unification had been decided) the two business enterprises hadcompleted the Telekom 2000 program to develop infrastructure in the GDR,allowing Deutsche Post Telekom to start on the expansion of infrastructure inthe GDR with the financial support from DBT Telekom. During the period of the political turning point the forces supportingGerman unification gained the upper hand at an early stage within the post andtelecommunication sector of the GDR. They stematically reorganized structuresinside the GDR telecommunication sector with this in mind.
They anticipatedWestern German restructuring by seperating the GDR Post Ministry from DeutschePost and by splitting up the business underytaking into three divisions. Thesesame forces also prevented different regulatory political structures fromdeveloping during these hectic months. It is a fact that foreign networkoperators are known to have made offers to the GDR Minister of Posts during thistime, and for a short period the minister actually did consider licensing afurther (third) digital cellular mobile radio network operator in the GDR. However, it was decided that ensuring optimum conditions for the smooth union oftelecommunications branches in East and West was their priority. Their strategywas to achieve this by creating regulatory political by creating regulatorypolitical and organizational structures which were as uniform as possible.
Forthis reason the sectoral structures of the Western German telecommunicationsector were adopted in the new states of the East with practically nomodification. In this respect, developments in the telecommunication sectorfollowing the political turning point do not differ from developments in otherbranches of society, such as the sciences, the health service and others. It is debated whether the structures introduced by the postal reformwere really suited to the rapid developments in telecommunications in EasternGermany, or whether it might not have been better to choose a regulatorypolitical structure that better matched the situation they faced. With a fewexceptions, no such discussions were ever undertaken. Because of the unexpectedspeed with which of German unification took place, and the enormous publicpressure for immediate noticeable improvements in the industry, it was common tospend hours of unsuccessful attempts to dial numbers in East-West communication.
Frequencies would have been available in the 1800 MHz band. However, this ideawas not pursued any further. Presumably the lack of any standardization of DCS1800 at this time and respect for the financial stability of DBT Telekom, whichhad just launched a DM 60 billion expansion program for the new federal statesin the East, played a major role in this respect. The new federal statescontinued to play a role with the later licensing of a private E1 networkoperator on the basis of DCS1800 in the spring of 1993, insofar as E-Plus hasundertaken to start developing its network in the East. Also in the autumn and winter of 1990, the Monopolkommission (MonopoliesCommission) entered the debate, issuing a statement backed by a reportadvocating a competitive market, or at least strengthening the competitiveelements, in the process of developing infrastructure in the East. None of theseideas were followed up, all mainly because of the belief that no real dramaticchange in developments could be expected from such a major change in regulatorypolicy.
Development of private investment in the new federal states of EasternGermany could best be described as hesitant. Companies were largely skeptical ofthe industry structure. Because of Telekoms merger with Deutsche Post and itsownership of existing buildings and land it was only minimally affected by theproblems of ownership to private companies and administrative procedures. The primary objective of all development was to improve thetelecommunications infrastructure as soon as possible.
Telecommunications wasseen as playing a leading role in the process of economic recovery and itssignificance for the growing together of East and West. There was not enoughtime for additional basic experimentation, either on the political or on thetechnological level. Another important political objective behind the process of unification,was the intention of creating a uniform standard of living in the East and West. The importance of this objective and of its implications within the politicalprocess has an enormous influence on overall economic developments in EasternGermany and the telecommunication sector. In view of the huge excess demand fortelephone connections and telecommunication services, there were economicarguments in favor of a sharp increase in tariffs above those in the West.
However, such a policy could never have been implemented at the political level. Telephone tariffs in the East were brought in line with those in the West assoon as was technically possible, regardless of the different conditions inEastern and Western Germany. Uniform charges were considered politically to bemore important than an economically efficient distribution of the short supplyof telephone connections. Like in many other economic sectors, goals of economicefficiency have lost out to of just distribution when fixing telephone tarriffsin the new states in the East.
As a public service, the West German telecommunications system is run bythe federal counties. The legal basis of this state monopoly is found in Article87 of West German basic law, which states that the West German PTT has to beconducted by a direct federal administration with its lower level ofadministrative offices. The right of legislation on postal and telecommunicationmatters falls exclusively on the federal county, according to Article 73 of thebasic law. The federal minister for postal and telecommunication services is thehead of the West German PTT.
According to Article 65 of West German basic lawthe federal minister for postal and telecommunication services, shall conductthe affairs of the West German PTT autonomously and on his own responsibility. Telecommunication policy formation as well as the management of administrationis the responsability of the federal minister for postal and telecommunicationservices,. However, his power is is restricted and controlled by the PostalAdministration Council (Para 1, Art 1 of the postal administration law). Themembers include the West German Bundestag, the West German Bundesrat andrepresentatives of the different areas of the economy as well as seven membersof the West German PTT trade union, the Deutsche Postgewerkschaft (DPG), andexperts from the fields of broadcasting and finance (Para 5, Art 2).
All 24members of the Postal Administration Council are appointed by their nationalcouncils or by the minister for postal and telecommunication services (expertfrom the field of broadcasting) and the minister for finance (expert from thefield of finance). According to Para 12 of the postal administration law, thecouncil decides on the budget of the West German PTT. Further executive rightsextend to conditions on the use of postal and telecomunication systems,including pricing (ara 12, Art 4), decisions on the field of activities (Para 12,Art 5), as well as changes in the technical telecommunication infrastructure(Para 12, Art 6). As an important control body, the Postal AdministrationCouncil has to approve all regulations proposed by the federal minister forpostal and telecommunication services. However, the minister for postal andtelecommunication services has the power to annul decisions of the postaladministration council (Para 13, Art 1,2).
Despite this kind of veto right, the federal government as well as theBundestag have no direct control over the West German policies oftelecommunication. Yet the West German PTT is obliged to respect the principlesof the politics of West Germany, according to Para 2, Art 1 of the postaladministration law. However, the principles defined by the federal governmentare so vague that they cannot properly act as a stern basis for engaging intelecommunication policies. The influence of the Bundestag is even weaker sincethe budget of the West German PTT forms a special fund (Para 3, Art 1 of thepostal administration law), over which the West German PTT exercises its ownbudgetary rights.
The influence of parliament is only by the participation ofmembers of parliament in the postal administration council as well as inpolitical positions in the federal postal and telecommunication administration. The result is that West German telecommunication policy is designed andimplemented around the postal administration council and the postaladministration. In spite of occasional accusations of opportunism aimed at thepostal administration council, it’s believable that the post administration hasadjusted itself to the potential compromises in the council. This can be backedup by the strong clashes in the council, and by that overruling the postaladministration council too often would likely lead to harmful campaigns againstthe council. The development of the telecommunication infrastructure within thispolitical and institutional framework became more and more criticized in the1970s.
Finally it caused the demand for reform within the institutional andpolitical framework. The origins of the criticism came from the rapidtechnological developments of the 1960s and 1970s. Spectacular developments inthe realms of microelectronics and transmission technology as well as thecontinuing digitalization made merging telecommunication and data-processingpossible. This resulted in new quantitative and qualitative demands on thetelecommunication infrastructure. According to critics, the West German PTT, by not allowing competition,had not been in a position to complete these demands.
This criticism, mainlyforwarded by the Liberal Democratic Party, was mostly concerned with theinternational competitiveness of West Germany. Further demands for the openingof markets were created by those countries which have already deregulated theirtelecommunication systems, for example the UK, USA, and Japan. Germany has eight main political paries: Christian Democratic Union(CDU), Christian Social Union (CSU), Free Democrat Party (FDP), Social DemocratParty (SDP), The Greens, The Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), TheRepublicans, and the Deutsche Volksunion. Christian Democratic UnionThe CDU, combining Catholics abd Protestants, has been the mostimportant single party in the development of post-war Germany. Its foreignpolicy was forged by Konrad Adenauer and is based on the Atlantic alliance.
Although it also accepted the opening to the east initiated in the late 1960sand early 1970s by Willy Brandt and it is currently concerned with stability inpost-communist Eastern Europe. Its leader, Helmut Kohl, has been chancellorsince 1982 and still exercises a powerful personal control over the party. TheCDU’s domestic policy is based on the concept of the social market as developedby Ludwig Erhard in the 1950s. Christian Social UnionThe CSU is a sister party of the CDU.
It is Catholic and operates onlyin Bavaria where it is not challenged by the CDU. Under the leadership of thelate Franz Josef Strauss, it was more openly assertive in the pursuance ofGerman interests than the CDU. Its present leader is the finance minister, TheoWaigel. Howevere, Edmund Stoiber, the prime minister of Bavaria, as a moreaggressive politician in the tradition of Franz Josef Strauss, is equallyimportant. Free Democrat PartyThe free democrats are basically a liberal party in the European ratherthan the American sense; they believe in limiting government interference in allwalks of life, including both questions like divorce and abortion, and theeconomy. On the latter they are generally to the right of the CDU.
However, theFDP’s most dominant personality in the second half of the 1970s, and until hisresignation in 1992, was Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who made his name as foreignminister. The present leader, Klaus Kinkel, is also foreign minister. Social Democrat PartyOnce Marxist (though always democratic), the Social Democratsestablished a programme of pragmatic reform known as the Bad Godesberg programat the end of the 1950s. This paved the way for Helmut Schmidt, two of Germany’smost influential post-war politicians. The difference between their economicphilosophy and the Christian Democrats’ social market is not fundamental.
Atpresent, however, the SPD believes the CDU has failed to face up to the need topay for unification, and advocates higher taxes, especially on the better off. The SPD’s foreign policy has always emphasized openings to the east, but not atthe expense of the Atlantic alliance or the EU. There is a strong pacifistelement which currently opposes any German military activity outside Germany,including participation in UN peacekeeping operations; however, it should besaid that there are pacifists in all major parties. The GreensThe Greens had a major influence on German policies of all major partiesduring the 1980s, having surmounted the 5% threshold needed to be represented inparliament in the 1983 elections.
However, in December 1990 they just failed tomeet this threshold in western Germany, partly because of an internal divisionbetween realists and purists. They are represented in the Bundestag because ineastern Germany, where a seperate threshold was provided, they won more than 5%in alliance with Bundnis 90, a group of protest parties from the former EastGermany. They also participate in governing coalitions in some state parliaments. The Party of Democratic SocialismThis is the former SED or ruling party of East Germany.
Under a moderateleader, Gregor Gysi, who was never closely associated with the Honecker regime,it has attracted the support of some of those who have lost their jobs or homesas a result of unification. The Republicans and Deutsche VolksunionThe Republicans and Deutsche Volksunion represent nationalist forces onthe far right of German politics. They have played on the immigration issue.