East Germany Table of Contents
East Germany follows the pattern of the Hungarian, Czechoslovak, and Polish "multiparty" systems in permitting the existence of small parties that accept the leadership of the ruling communist party and are its allies in the construction of socialism. In all cases, the parties merely exist to further the goals of the ruling Marxist-Leninist party and have no opportunity for genuine independent political action. In East Germany, this system is known as the Alliance Policy (BŁndnispolitik), and the four parties subordinate to the SED are known as "alliance parties." These are the Christian Democratic Union (Christlich-Demokratische Union--CDU), the Liberal Democratic Party of Germany (Liberal-Demokratische Partei Deutschlands--LDPD), the Democratic Peasants' Party of Germany (Demokratische Bauernpartei Deutschlands--DBD), and the National Democratic Party of Germany (National-Demokratische Partei Deutschlands--NDPD) (see Council of Ministers , this ch.; fig. 10.). In 1982 the small parties registered the following memberships: the CDU--125,000; the LDPD--82,000; the DBD-- 103,000; and the NDPD--91,000. In contrast to the one-party system in the Soviet Union, these smaller parties assist the SED in reaching certain key sectors of the community, such as the intelligentsia, businessmen, and manufacturers who are not members of the SED. Their chief function is securing the support of these groups for the aims of the party and the state and integrating into the socialist system citizens who are critical of the SED or who, because of their social and/or political background, cannot secure or achieve membership in the SED. Although represented in the People's Chamber, the alliance parties do not compete with SED delegates for seats or power.
Data as of July 1987