Many conservatives and neoliberals claim that now that Soviet-style communism is extinct, social democracy (or democratic socialism) will soon meet the same fate. Then, of course, they assert that capitalism has triumphed. Are their claims premature, at least as far as social democracy in Germany is concerned? Does the sharp turn of the Social Democratic party of Germany (SPD) to pragmatism in this “Super Election Year” 1994, in which twenty local, state, national, and European Parliament elections are scheduled, signify that the party has given up its vision of amuted social democratic future that conservatives and neoliberals do not share?
A survey of the SPD in contemporary Germany should be able to provide some answers. As the senior party in power from 1969 to 1982, under chancellors Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt, its progressive domestic agenda did have a limited success. This was especially true in the Brandt era, when numerous reforms produced improvements in...
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