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East Germany Table of Contents

East Germany


Honecker has defined the socialist state as the chief instrument for executing the public policy of the "toiling masses under the leadership of the working class." At the Tenth Party Congress in 1981, Honecker declared the "all-around strengthening of the socialist state an important task of the 1980s." An editorial in a subsequent issue of Neues Deutschland reiterated that the "all-around strengthening of the socialist state is and remains for our party a basic issue of the revolution. . . . Without a strong and well-functioning socialist state there can be socialist achievements for the people."

Although it is not the main center of political power, the state has an important political function insofar as it serves as the chief instrument through which the party seeks to implement its programs and achieve special social, economic, and political goals. Such a cooperative effort requires a well-elaborated system of coordination between the two entities. The party determines the boundaries within which the state is required to act. The need to coordinate the activities and functions of the party and state apparatuses has resulted in a significant degree of overlap in the policy area as well as in the personnel of both organizations (see table 12, Appendix A). Both apparatuses are responsible for a variety of similar activities; however, while the party is responsible for setting up the general guidelines and ideological content of specific policies and programs, the state is given the legal authority to execute them and to monitor their implementation on all levels of the hierarchy.

The division of authority between party and state often results in conflict. Such conflict is based less on differences in ideology between members of the two apparatuses than on the issue of control and the most effective way of achieving the goals toward which the party's programs and policies are directed. However, the overlapping of membership between the party and state apparatuses--especially between their respective executive organs such as the SED Central Committee and the Council of Ministers--makes such a conflict manageable. Moreover, conflict between the two organizations is often the consequence of disagreement within the various branches of the party and state.

Data as of July 1987