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The Birth of the Grand Coalition (December 13, 1966)

In his policy statement to the Bundestag, Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger addressed mainly economic policy and foreign policy issues and signaled a change of course in policies towards East Germany and Eastern Europe. This change would become manifest in the erosion of the Hallstein Doctrine, among other things.

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Policy Statement by the Federal Chancellor to the German Bundestag in Bonn on December 13, 1666

Mr. President! Ladies and gentlemen! The formation of this government, in whose name I have the honor of addressing you, was preceded by a long, smoldering crisis, whose origins can be traced back for years. The crisis burst into the open barely one year after the elections to the 5th German Bundestag, which produced an impressive vote of confidence for my predecessor, Professor Ludwig Erhard, and enabled the parties of the previous coalition to continue governing. Subsequently, domestic political difficulties, internal party quarrels, and foreign policy concerns encumbered the work of the government, until disagreements over balancing the 1967 federal budget and over fiscal policy measures that are necessary in the long-term finally led to the breakup of the previous coalition and to a minority cabinet.

The new Grand Coalition government emerged from the ensuing coalition negotiations. The negotiations between the parties led to what was probably the most thorough stock-taking of the opportunities and necessities of German politics prior to any government's formation.

For the first time, the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union and the Social Democratic Party have decided to form a joint government at the federal level. This is, without a doubt, a milestone in the history of the Federal Republic, an event to which many hopes and concerns of our people are tied. The hopes center on the ability of the Grand Coalition, which commands such a large majority in the Bundestag, well exceeding two-thirds, to solve the difficult problems before it: that it will, first of all, put the public budget in order, run a frugal administration, and tend to the growth of our economy and the stability of our currency.

These are all prerequisites for private and public welfare in our country, as in any other country. They guarantee that the government and the parliament have the necessary power to take action in all areas of domestic and foreign policy. Many of the concerns regard the possible dangers inherent to a Grand Coalition, which is faced by only a relatively small opposition.

We are determined, insofar as we can, to fulfill the hopes placed on us and to ward off the possible dangers. In this coalition, ladies and gentlemen, power and offices won't be divided up between partners, abuses and problems won't be covered up, and the momentum of parliamentary life will not be crippled by behind-the-scenes deals, as is implied by the catchphrase “consociational” democracy.* The opposition will have every opportunity afforded by the parliament to have its views represented and heard.

* Proporzdemokratie: awarding offices based on the strength of a few major parties sharing power and patronage. Stands in contrast to democratic systems based strictly on majority rule – trans.

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