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Germany Table of Contents


Domestic Influences on Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy Positions of the Political Parties

Members of Kohl's CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (Christlich-Soziale Union--CSU), assert that transatlantic links should be given priority over more European-dominated organizations such as the CSCE, especially in the discussion of security matters. They also stress that assumption of responsibility in international affairs would necessarily demand a resolution of the "out-of-area" debate, that is, whether Germany would be allowed to participate alongside Alliance partners in future military operations.

The CSU has distinguished itself from the CDU by pushing a slightly more confident tone regarding what its members perceive as German national interests. Notable in this regard were CSU demands that Bonn and Prague renegotiate a friendship treaty to give greater emphasis to property claims of ethnic Germans (living mostly in Bavaria) who had emigrated or been expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II. In May 1992, the CSU announced that it would vote against the German-Czechoslovak friendship treaty in the Bundesrat.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Genscher's party, the FDP, is perhaps the least nationalistic and the most multilateral in philosophy of the German political parties when it comes to the subject of foreign policy. Although FDP voters, like those of the CDU, strongly favor membership in NATO and rapid European unification, FDP supporters have stressed to a greater extent than the other parties the importance of CSCE institutions and policies aimed at arms control and arms reductions. Holding views markedly different in this regard than those held by the CDU/CSU, FDP voters place far less emphasis on the participation of German soldiers in peacekeeping and peacemaking missions under UN auspices.

On foreign policy issues, the SPD is distinct in a number of ways from the ruling coalition government in Bonn. Like the FDP, the SPD is a strong supporter of the CSCE but favors greater restrictions on out-of-area missions for the Bundeswehr. Although fundamentally multilateralist in sentiment (the SPD supports a United States of Europe and more responsibility for the UN in collective security), the SPD is apt to express its desire that Germany play a singular and special role in international relations because of its recent troubled history. A survey taken in the early 1990s found that 35 percent of SPD voters preferred a neutral status for united Germany. Of the major political parties, the SDP is the biggest supporter of neutrality and on balance offers the lowest support for NATO.

The Greens (Die Grünen), a western German environmentalist party, united in 1993 with an eastern German political group, Alliance 90 (Bündnis 90), to form Alliance 90/The Greens, commonly called the Greens. Surveys from the early 1990s found that one-third of the traditionally pacifist Green voters supported continued membership in NATO. Nearly 50 percent backed European unity. Although the Greens adamantly opposed German participation in Operation Desert Storm, some members have begun to call for a multilateral military intervention in the Balkan war. However, they either eschew the question of or oppose German involvement.

Other small parties, such as the PDS and the right-wing radical Republikaner (Die Republikaner--REP), are either opposed to or reluctant to support German membership in NATO and reject European integration (according to the Republikaner) as subordinating German interests to a pan-European bureaucratic architecture. Neither the PDS nor the Republikaner played a significant role in mainstream debate during the first several years following unification.

Data as of August 1995