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The Schism in the Coalition as Reflected by Political Commentators (September 18, 1982)

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III. “The End of an Epoch?” (Werner Holzer, Frankfurter Rundschau, September 18, 1982)

[ . . . ] The attempt by two parties to come together, not only for tactical and strategic reasons, but to create new majorities by merging two theories of social policy, was a major and necessary experiment. The slow and sometimes embarrassing failure can do nothing to change that. If a large Social Democratic party was prepared to let a smaller partner drive it away from its basic conviction that state tax mechanisms are half way to solving the problem, then the Liberals’ willingness no longer to rely exclusively in the future on the ability of the stronger and more active partner to assert itself was just as decisive a step. This was the historic significance of the coalition between the SPD and FDP in 1969. [ . . . ]

No one should be surprised that thirteen years later the veneer on this fundamental approach had cracked in places. Nothing pertaining to human beings can avoid signs of wear. This certainly also applies to politicians and parliamentary coalitions. The crisis-laden development of the global economy and the chilling of the international climate could not pass over the coalition and this country without a trace. Some mistakes in their own ranks then accelerated the process of attrition. But if the early momentum slowed down, if crude reality got the better of the coalition in the end, then this does nothing to change the fact that the political idea of this coalition was not only correct in 1969, but still is today. [ . . . ]

Source: Hans Hermann Hartwich, “Der Bruch der sozialliberalen Koalition im September 1982” [“The Break-Up of the Social-Liberal Coalition in September 1982”], Gegenwartskunde. Heft 4, 1982, pp. 491-502.

Translation: Allison Brown

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