Path: Table of Contents > Essay on Party Politics > Party 122
German Social Democratic Party, 122
Variables and Codes for 1950-1962
For the concepts and variables below, use these links to Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey:
Governmental Status
Issue Orientation
Goal Orientation
Organizational Complexity
Organizational Power
Organizational Coherence
Membership Involvement
The "ac" code is for "adequacy-confidence"--a data quality measure ranging from 0 (low) to 9 (high)

Institutionalization Variables, 1.01-1.06
1.01 Year of Origin and 1.02 Name Changes
1869, AC7
0, AC9
Discounting the party reorganization after World War II, the data indicate that the party was founded in the late 1860"s, with the Congress at Eisenach, 1869, being the specific date most often cited. But the Unity Congress at Gotha in 1875 might have been chosen, as well as the Efurt Congress in 1891, when the present name was adopted in preference to the former
Socialist Labor Party.
1.03 Organizational Discontinuity
12, AC9
The all-German people's party went into dissolution and recommended that its members join the SPD (minor merger), during the first half. Around 1960 the expulsion of the social democratic student union (SDS) which in turn induced some senior party members to resign can be considered a major split. A small group of free democrats withdrew the FDP's support for the North-Rhine Westphalian cabinet and joined a land coalition with the social democrats in 1956. This is judged to be only a coalition, not a minor merger.
1.04 Leadership Competition
16, AC8
The leadership changed hands at least four times during the time period. Leaders included Schumacher (1950-52), Ollenhauer (1952-59) and a number of leaders between 1959 and 1961. Willy Brandt finally surfaced as party leader in 1961. Other names mentioned in leadership roles include Erler, Deist, Schmidt, and Wehner. During most of the late 1950's (and actually for all the years following Schumacher's death) leadership was collegial with all the above named men exercising some control at some time. The a/c is lowered because the process of selection may have vascillated between overt and covert.
1.05 Legislative Instability
Instability is .05, AC9
The social democrats" legislative representation ranged from 31 to 38 percent of the seats.
1.06 Electoral Instability
Instability is .08, AC9
Based on elections in 1953, 1957, and 1961, the SPD percent of the vote climbed from 29 to 36 percent.

Governmental Status Variables, 2.01-2.07
2.01 Government Discrimination
0, AC9
The party maintained its integrity throughout the time period. No indication of any discrimination by the government against the SPD. The data also indicate that the SPD was involved in various governing coalitions on the laender level.
2.02 Governmental Leadership
0 out of 7 for 1950-56, AC9
0 out of 6 for 1957-62, AC9
The SPD never participated in a governing coalition during the time period.
2.03 Cabinet Participation
0 out of 7 for 1950-56, AC9
0 out of 6 for 1957-62, AC9
The SPD never participated in a cabinet on the federal level during the time period.
2.04 National Participation
6, AC7
The party was definitely national in orientation. Its strength increased throughout the time period, and it continued to make inroads in regions where it was previously weakest.
2.05 Legislative Strength
Strength is .32 for 1950-56, AC9, and .35 for 1957-62, AC9
The social democrats" legislative representation ranged from 31 to 38 percent of the seats.
2.06 Electoral Strength
Strength is .29 for 1950-56, AC9, and .34 for 1957-62, AC9
Based on elections in 1953, 1957, and 1961, the SPD percent of the vote climbed from 29 to 36 percent.
2.07 Outside Origin
11, AC3
It is unclear whether the party founders were considered to be leaders of outlawed workers's organizations or not. A code of eleven is given on the basis of government reaction to the formation of the party--government reaction being highly discriminatory, including arresting SPD members and confiscation of literature.

Issue Orientation Variables, 5.01-5.15
5.01 Ownership of Means of Production
4 for 1950-56, AC9
1 for 1957-62, AC9
During the early years of the first half, SPD party policy still called for nationalization of much basic industry and the seizure of some portion of large financial empires. However, this Marxist posture was already being de emphasized during the first half. By 1957 Ollenhauer and the party had called socialism to question, and the party program did not even mention socialism, instead emphasizing competition. By the end of the second half, the party no longer favored government ownership, but merely some government regulation.
5.02 Government Role in Economic Planning
4 for 1950-56, AC9
1 for 1957-62, AC9
During the early years of the first half, the SPD advocated a rather vigorous government role in economic planning, including assurance of full employment, planned credit and raw material policy, seizing of part of private fortunes, and some socialization of industry. This position was soon modified to reflect a more conservative SPD image. Thus, by the second half, the only SPD economic planning measures included changes in the tax structure, new cartel legislation to more closely regulate industry, and a guarantee of protection for the Deutschmark.
5.03 Redistribution of Wealth
3 for 1950-56, AC9
1 for 1957-62, AC9
While the party favored seizure of some portion of private fortunes during the first half, by the second half of the period the party merely advocated a more just system of taxation. Party called for increased taxes on the estates of the very wealthy, increased taxes on speculative profits, and abolition of consumption tax on sugar and salt.
5.04 Social Welfare
3, AC9
Throughout the time period the party called for social reforms including improved health care, social insurance, better recreation facilities, and old age pension improvements. There was no evidence that these programs had to be compulsary.
5.05 Secularization of Society
1 for 1950-56, AC5 -
2 for 1957-62, AC5
Party position on this variable most ambivalent. During the first half the SPD was somewhat antagonistic towards the church. The party considered religion to be a private matter, and therefore was not in favor of appropriating money to parochial schools.
However, this position changed during the second time period when the SPD made special attempts to engineer a rapprochement with the church through discussion and recognition of the public duty of the churches to a voice in general questions of political life. In the Bavarian laender, a heavily Catholic region, the SPD accepted the notion of governmental aid to parochial schools.
5.06 Support of the Military
1 for 1950-56, AC9
3 for 1957-62, AC9
During the early years of the first half, the SPD attempted to maintain a somewhat anti-military posture. However, it soon became a party policy to accept the legitimacy of NATO and the necessity for German participation in it, tempered only by the demand that Germany not become a pawn in an international defense game. By the second half, the SPD had accepted the necessity for rearmament and close NATO ties. Party did protest against the use of nuclear weapons, however.
5.07 Alignment with East-West Blocs
2 for 1950-56, AC9 -
5 for 1957-62, AC9
During the early years of the first half, the party was somewhat antagonistic towards the u.s., and advocated negotiations with the Eastern Bloc. This position changed rapidly, and by the mid-1950's the party had completely abandoned any attempts at reconciliation with the East. During the second half, the SPD continually emphasized its wholehearted support for the US, and the SPD foreign policy was almost identical to that of the CDU.
5.08 Anti-Colonialism
0, AC9
Germany was not involved in colonial relationships during the time period. SPD favored distribution of foreign aid only when requested to do so by a nation in need.
5.09 Supranational Integration
2 for 1950-56, AC9
3 for 1957-62, AC9
The SPD was opposed to EEC and the Schuman plan during the first half of the period, fearing their threat to German sovereignty and reunification. However, by the second half of the time period, the SPD came to fully support the EEC.
5.10 national Integration
1, AC9
Party has always supported reunification of the two Germanies.
However, this policy cannot be operationalized and cannot be taken into consideration for coding. The party is thus coded as federalist on the basis of SPD support for the maintenance of the federal structure in Germany throughout our time period.
5.11 Electoral Participation
5, AC9
Party advocated maintenance of universal suffrage.
5.12 Protection of Civil Rights
5, AC9
Party supported total abolition of discrimination.
5.13 Interference with Civil Liberties
3, AC9
Party advocates total freedom of political expression.
5.14 / 5.15 US--Soviet Experts Left-Right Ratings
US says 3, non-communist left
Soviets say 2, made up of a significant part of the working class, but it was for the preservation of the capitalist structure.

Goal Orientation Variables, 6.01-6.55
6.00 Open Competition in the Electoral Process
4, AC9
Party always competed in an open electoral system and never advocated restriction of electoral competition during our time period.
6.10 Restricting Party Competition
0, AC9
Party never advocated restriction of electoral competition during our time period.
6.20 Subverting the Political System
0, AC9
Party never advocated subversion of the governmental system during our time period.
6.30 Propagandizing Ideas and Program
6.31--2, AC9.
Party controlled numerous dailies with a combined circulation of more than a million.
6.32--2, AC9.
Party's numerous ancillary organizations assumed role of party educational organs.
6.33--2, AC9.
Party issued numerous resolutions and platforms throughout the time period.
6.34--2, AC9.
Party issued numerous position papers throughout the time period.
6.50 Providing for Welfare of Party Members
6.51--2, AC3.
Although data are unclear, it appears likely that providing for food, clothing, or shelter came under the aegis of SPD welfare activity.
No information.
6.53--2, AC7.
Party officials were active on local and laender levels on behalf of citizens.
Although the SPD maintained organizations for political education, there was no information relating to the provision of basic education.
6.55--2, AC9.
The party was active in providing various welfare and recreational services.

Autonomy Variables, 7.01-7.05
7.01 Sources of Funds
7, AC9
Party membership dues, assessments, and income from party activities constitute the entire source of SPD revenue. Income from outside contributors was negligible.
7.02 Source of Members
5, AC9
The party constitution made no mention of indirect party membership. There were no formal structural ties between the SPD and the trade unions in terms of membership.
7.03 Sources of Leaders
3 (sector 03) for 1st half, AC5
3 (sector 03) for 2nd half, AC6
Based on data in Loewenberg--1967--for parliamentarians from 1957-1961, about half of the SPD deputies reporting occupations were professionals.
7.04 Relations with Domestic Parties
7, AC9
The party was completely autonomous throughout most of the time period. On two occasions (1949-53, 1957-61) there were other minor parties in opposition to the government. The SPD occasionally benefitted from this increased opposition, and the party garnered some extra votes in opposing certain government programs.
7.05 Relations with Foreign Organizations
3 for first half, AC9
4 for 2nd half, AC7
During the first half the party may have relied on the international congress for some policy initiatives.
However, by the end of the second time period, the SPD appeared to have chosen a highly autonomous party policy which paid only lip service to any international socialist organizations and doctrines.

Organizational Complexity Variables, 8.01-8.07
8.01 Structural Articulation
11, AC9
Four national organs can be identified--Party Convention, Party Executive Committee, Party Council, and Control Commission. Functions and responsibilities were clearly delineated in the party bylaws. The Party Convention received reports on the various committees, elects the committees, and votes on resolutions submitted to it. Convention members were elected in the districts, the number of seats being proportional to the number of members who paid dues. The Executive Committee was elected by the convention. It was responsible for conducting party business and supervising party organs. The Party Council was composed of the chairmen of the districts, the chairmen of the land committees, the chairmen of the landtag parliamentary parties, and the prime ministers of the laender. Its responsibilities include coordinating policies in the federation and laender and advising the executive committee on basic policy questions. The control commission was elected by the national convention for the supervision of the executive committee and as an appeals institution for complaints against the executive committee.
8.02 Intensiveness of Organization
6, AC7
On the lowest level of party organization, membership figures indicate that attendance at meetings was often under 100 people. The lowest level (ortsvereine) can therefore be considered cellular. There were 9,100 locals in 1959, averaging 69 members each.
8.03 Extensiveness of Organization
6, AC9
There were at least 9,100 local party organizations averaging 69 members each. Considering the large number of locals, as well as the large number of party members throughout the country, it can be safely assumed that local coverage was found throughout the country.
8.04 Frequency of Local Meetings
5, AC9
Figures show that the local party organizations met on the average of between 6 and 8 times per year.
8.05 Frequency of National Meetings
6, AC6
The Executive Committee met roughly once a month.
8.06 Maintaining Records
16, AC9
Like the CDU, the SPD maintained complete and current membership lists. A party yearbook served as an archival source and was quite complete and thorough. Of course, the party publishing program was vigorous and unending.
8.07 Pervasiveness of Organization
17, AC9
There were a large number of ancillary organizations. Not only did the party sponsor student, youth, womenís, and cultural groups, but it also sponsored numerous "abreitgemeinschaft" which brought together SPD sympathizers and members of similar backgrounds (i.e., Professional, war refugees). Party control of these organizations appeared to be moderate to high. The party had difficulty keeping control of the student organization (SDS), and the party did not attempt to strictly oversee the activities of the arbeitgemeinschafts.
Hierarchical with at least three identifiable levels of organizationsóFederal Party, District, Local associations.

Organizational Power Variables, 9.01-9.08
9.01 Nationalization of Structure
5, AC9
The SPD structure is hierarchical with at least three identifiable levels of organizations--Federal Party, District, Local associations.
9.02 Selecting the National Leader
3, AC9
The Party Convention elected the chairman of the Party Executive Committee. The chairman appeared to exercise the greatest degree of party leadership. The party convention itself was composed of delegates from the districts as well as members of the party Executive Committee and of the Control Commission.
9.03 Selecting Parliamentary Candidates
5, AC7
By law, nominations for constituency seats were the responsibility of the constituency party association. However, the SPD representation in Parliament came mostly from list rather than district seats. The list nominations were made by the land organization conventions, with some national advice given on selection.
9.04 Allocating Funds
2, AC7
The districts were in charge of dues collection, while the Federal Party was responsible for the distribution of much of that money, along with any outside contributions.
9.05 Formulating Policy
5, AC7
Chalmers summarizes SPD policy formulation--prior to 1958, the executive branch of the party was composed of about 25 members elected by the Party Congress, 7 of which were paid members. These 7 included the chairman, his deputy, and five others. They were both the chief organizational leaders and the core of the party leadership in residence in Bonn. In 1958 a general reorganization of the major organs occurred. The executive was expanded to 33, with a group of 9 members forming the "party presidium". The presidium consisted of paid party officials and important members of the Bundestag. It met about once a week. The fact that the leadership of the executive and the Fraktion (Parliamentary Party) was united in this presidium clearly made it supreme in the SPD. But the party conference was still involved in creating programs and policy.
9.06 Controlling Communications
7, AC9
The national organization controlled a vast media network which included the party yearbook, the internal party magazine, various electronic media campaigns, and general publications for public distribution. The party published a monthly magazine Die Demokratische Gemeinde.
9.07 Administering Discipline
4, AC9
The Party Executive Committee had broad disciplinary powers which included summary expulsion with no right of defense or appeal.
9.08 Leadership Concentration
3, AC9
The SPD executive committee was a highly homogeneous group dominated by no one personality or group, in contrast with the inner elite of the CDU. Collegial leadership was the rule after the death of Kurt Schumacher in 1952.

Coherence Variables, 10.01-10.06
10.01 Legislative Cohesion
.99, AC9
Ozbudun calculated indices of cohesion for the SPD in Bundestags from 1949 through 1961, based on 331 votes.
10.02 Ideological Factionalism
3 for 1st half, AC5
5 for 2nd half, AC6
Ideological matters engendered considerable discussion by parties and members, and there was some factionalism within the Wirtschafte Politischen Ausschuss early in our period. The disappointing show of the SPD in the 1957 elections led to a formal reconsideration of the party program. In its bad Godesberg Congress of 1959, ideological reform was adopted by a vote of 324 to 116, and the party's Marxist pretensions were scrapped.
10.03 Issue Factionalism
1, AC5
There have been occasional disagreements on the party's issue orientation, most notably in the field of foreign policy, during the first half of the time period. However, sustained factionalism on questions of issue orientation has not occurred.
10.04 Leadership Factionalism
2, AC5
Throughout the time period the collegial leadership of the party resulted in individual followings for some members of the party elite. This is most notable in the cases of Kurt Schumacher, Carlo Schmid, and Willy Brandt.
However, there were no labeled groupings, and the leadership followings did not result in serious dissension.
10.05 Strategic or Tactical Factionalism
2 for 1st half, AC3
5 for 2nd half, AC6
Before the 1957 elections, the main problem of strategy and tactics within the SPD dealt with the party's relations to the communists. Later, the problem was changed to a shift to the right in an effort to compete more successfully with the CDU and its economic successes. The ideological revision of 1959 was carried out mainly with electoral ends in mind.
10.06 Party Purges
0 for 1st half, AC3
1 for 2nd half, AC3
Only expulsion that could be interpreted as a purge occurred in 1960-61 when the Social Democratic Student Union was dropped by the party. This, in turn, led to the resignation of some senior party members. The expulsion of some students during the first time period involved only a very small number of members.

Involvement Variables, 11.01-11.06
11.01 Membership Requirements
7, AC9
Party members must apply with the local associations. There is a one year probation period, and there are complex rules on dues payment. The complete membership records of the party imply that all members must be registered.
11.02 Membership Participation
4, AC3
The high degree of party organization, as evidenced by the numerous conferences, congresses, and meetings, seems to indicate a large number of party militants. SPD party offices always maintained large staffs. These workers devoted large blocs of time to SPD activities.
11.03 Material Incentives
0, AC3
Since the party did not hold governmental leadership throughout the time period, the question of material incentives was not raised. It seems highly unlikely that many party militants were motivated by the possibility of obtaining patronage positions.
11.04 Purposive Incentives
4, AC3
Since the SPD was not the governmental leader on the national level throughout the time period, it would seem reasonable to assume that the party militants were sustained by a genuine concern for and belief in the political principles and programs of the SPD.
11.05 Doctrinism
3 for 1st half, AC5
2 for 2nd half, AC5
The SPD was somewhat more doctrinaire during the first half. There were frequent references to party programs and these programs and policies were rigorously interpreted in determining the issue position. During the second half, the party became more flexible. While there were frequent references to the bad Godesburg program, it was recognized that the Godesburg program itself called for a less doctrinaire position. By the early 1960"s, the SPD and CDU were equally pragmatic.
11.06 Personalism
0, AC9
Personalistic leadership in the SPD was almost impossible during our time period because of the collegial nature of the SPD elite. None of the inner circle enjoyed any sort of charismatic following.