Bibliography on Party Politics in WEST GERMANY, 1950-1962

Stephen A. Smith

The study of West German political parties received an early impetus through the involvement of the Western powers in the recreation of a liberal republic in Germany. A glance through Hans-Gerd Schumann's recent bibliography on post-war parties, Die politischen Parteien in Deutschland nach 1945 (Frankfurt A.M.: Bernard & Graefe Verlag, 1967), gives one an idea of the sheer volume of the material which has collected in the meantime, both in German and in English. The bibliographical problem for this analyst was thus one of selection rather than of searching.

Due to the scarcity of German language skills among most of the researchers who would otherwise by eligible to code the German parties with the use of the file, a decision was made to limit the file to English-language sources. It might be well to point out that these documents do include a few translations and a number of studies written in English by German scholars. However, a few observations on the German-language literature itself seem necessary to help mitigate the outrage of its initial exclusion.

To begin with, much of the German literature (as much of the English) is too broadly descriptive for our research purposes [One of several more recent exceptions is Heino Kaack, Geschechte und Struktur des deutschen Parteiensystems (Oplaclen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1971) ]. The relevant sections of Ludwig Berstrasser's long-time standard Geschichte der politischen Parteien in Deutschland (Munich: Olzog, [11th Ed.] 1965) skip through the years 1950-1962 only in brief review. Even sketchier are those sections of Walter Tormin's updated Geschichte der deutschen Partejen seit 1848 (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1967). Gunter Olzog's book Die politischen Parteien in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Munich: Olzog, 1968) offers some handy summaries of party structure and finance (with tables), but there is little here that cannot be found in greater detail in English (See Lane and Pollock, Heidenheimer 041, and Duebber and Braunthal). Die westdeutschen Parteien 1945-1965 (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1966) quite frankly limits its authority to that of a handbook (See "Vorbemerkung," p. 7). This last work, issued by the Deutsches Institut fur Zeitgeschichte in East Berlin, also claims to be the first East German study of its kind. There is in truth a virtual absence of East German literature on West German parties. Generally, this may be accounted for by the tendency of Marxist scholarship to look elsewhere for the causes of political change.

If East German scholarship, up to now, has chosen not to focus on political parties at all, the relevant West German scholarship has often done so only directly. And when it has, it has rendered itself largely useless to the Project. Studies like Theodor Eschenburg, Der Beamte in Partei und Parlament (Frankfurt: Metzner, 1952), insofar as they address themselves to factors of the political system affecting all parties in like measure pass over the Project's unit of analysis and yield information only for the environmental category 6--. Other (case) studies like Goetz Roth, Fraktion und Regierungsbildung (Meisenheim am Clan, 1954), treat party politics only on the regional level, and there are finally a number of monographs on minor parties which have not been included into the ICPP party universe.

A number of major reference sources were consulted during the largely standardized ICPP bibliographic search. Additional specialized bibliographies consulted were those of Neumann, Mason, and Schumann, as well as a selected version of the Schumann bibliography in the eleventh edition of Bergstrasser. These sources together proved more than sufficient for the identification of the relevant English-language literature.

Material Processed into ICPP Information Files

Our bibliographic search disclosed 45 English-language documents relevant to party politics in West Germany during 1950-1962. A total of 2,125 pages were read and indexed from these documents. The kinds of information contained in these pages are shown in the tabulation of indexing code frequencies. These frequencies are generally self-explanatory, but a few comments may be in order regarding their distribution.

The rank order distribution of the major code categories reveals a useful breakdown of data. The four most frequently used major categories all deal with intra-party phenomena: "activities," "composition," "organization," and "goals," in that order. Next in line are those codes dealing with the "party system" (8--). The comparatively low frequency of the 100 (party origin) codes is explained by the onset of the ICPP time period. The major West German parties were reorganized or established between 1945 and 1950; 1950-1962 represents largely a period.of growth, stabilization, and reform.

Turning to the rank order distribution of the substantive codes themselves, one will note a relatively high frequency of codes 360, 530, and 540. This has no particular significance. It is common to most ICPP files and documents the regularity with which accounts are given of "party leaders," "issue orientation," and "ideology." The uncommon strength of the 2-- (party activities) codes in this file, notably that of 210 (conducts election campaigns) and 200 (selects candidates), may be explained in part by the 453 pages of election studies (Kitzinger, Barnes et al., Pollack et al., 2nd Williams). The high incidence of codes 250 (party discipline) and 450 (legislative organization) is partly the work of the Loewenberg and the Rueckert studies of parliamentary parties.

Some Observations on the State of the Literature

It has become almost tradition in the Project to complain at this point about the theoretical deficiencies of one's country file. And it is no different with West Germany. Despite the credible strengths of the English-language literature, the table of indexing codes shows that it lacks an adequate body of theory. The major code category "study of parties" (0--), while more strongly represented than usual, occupies nonetheless its perennial cellar position with 112 occurrences. This in itself means little. But a glance at the category distribution of substantive codes reveals that the majority of these occurrences are devoted to typology and general theory and that the literature contains but two definitions and eight explicit propositions concerning parties. And a further glance at the table reveals that in only three cases were attempts made to test a proposition. This lack of theory is not likely to be met by the incorporation of the German-language literature; rather it would seem to be symptomatic of a more general need for theory about party politics.

The second table presents the results of data quality analysis by the document indexers. The frequencies presented apply to entire documents rather than to pages of documents. One can see that the authors represented in the file, nearly all of whom are academics, had considerable language resources and extensive field research at their disposal. The quality of the majority of documents was judged to be high, and more than half used some form of quantification going beyond the reporting of raw data in context. The "scope of study" focused on a single party as an object of inquiry, and that only one study was devoted to comparative party analysis. This checks the implication of the party code distribution that the selectivity of the literature is due to a predominance of single-party studies. What is most lacking is a major study of the CDU/CSU from 1950 through 1962. This needs to be a non-partisan study, and it would have to probe deeper into the financial interests of the government party than the literature has done so far.