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Title: German liberalism and foreign policy : the FDP's Ostpolitik under Hans-Dietrich Genscher, 1974-1990
Author: Ketterer, Constanze
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 1995
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For most of West Germany's history, the FDP has been the smallest party in the German system. However, in relation to their numerical weakness, the Liberals have exerted a disproportionally large influence on German foreign policy, especially in the field of Ostpolitik/German policy. With a special emphasis on the years 1974-1990 and on Hans-Dietrich Genscher's role as Foreign Minister, this dissertation examines the question how the FDP, at times barely making it into the Bundestag, could come to have such a strong impact on German Ostpolitik. Equally, this study is concerned with the constraints on the Free Democrats' freedom of manoeuvre in foreign policy. The following parameters are investigated to explain and define the FDP's capacities for action in foreign policy: (1) the impact of international relations, (2) the domestic context, and (3) the historical-ideological aspects of liberal foreign policy. Since the Free Democrats were in government with two different partners during the time period in question, the impact of these three parameters is examined during the Social-Liberal coalition (1974-82) and the Christian-Liberal coalition (1982-1990) respectively. Three main and related conclusions emerge from this study. First, that the international climate, while setting a tight framework for the Free Democrats' foreign policy, simultaneously allowed a number of specific FDP (Genscher) initiatives to have some impact on East-West relations, much more so during the 1980s than during the 1970s. Second, that the domestic context had nearly opposite effects on the FDP's foreign policy before and after 1982: during their coalition with the SPD, the domestic factors constrained the Free Democrats' capacities for action, while during the Christian-Liberal coalition, the FDP was able to exploit the domestic-political constellations to its advantage. And third, that contrary to what the literature on the Free Democrats posits, liberal ideology and personalities not only substantially influenced the FDP's Ostpolitik between 1974 and 1990, but provided a crucial element of continuity, consistency and indeed identity for the party.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available