Social Democratic Party of Germany
Overview
 
The Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD) is a social-democratic
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. The party is one of the two major
Major party
A major party is a political party that holds substantial influence in a country's politics, standing in contrast to a minor party. It should not be confused with majority party.According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:...

 contemporary political parties in Germany, along with the conservative CDU/CSU
CDU/CSU
CDU/CSU, unofficially also referred to as the Union parties or the Union, is the name of the Bundestag parliamentary faction comprising the Christian Democratic Union of Germany and the Christian Social Union of Bavaria , considered to be sister parties...

, and is currently led by Sigmar Gabriel
Sigmar Gabriel
Sigmar Gabriel is a German politician currently chairing the Social Democratic Party of Germany .On 15 December 1999, after the resignation of Gerhard Glogowski, who had succeeded Gerhard Schröder in office, Gabriel became Minister-President of Lower Saxony and served until 4 March 2003...

.

The SPD governed at the federal level in a grand coalition
Grand Coalition (Germany)
In modern Germany, grand coalition describes a governing coalition of the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, as they are the two largest parties.-Weimar Republic:...

 with the Christian Democratic Union
Christian Democratic Union (Germany)
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It is regarded as on the centre-right of the German political spectrum...

 and the Christian Social Union from 2005 until 27 October 2009.
Encyclopedia
The Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD) is a social-democratic
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. The party is one of the two major
Major party
A major party is a political party that holds substantial influence in a country's politics, standing in contrast to a minor party. It should not be confused with majority party.According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:...

 contemporary political parties in Germany, along with the conservative CDU/CSU
CDU/CSU
CDU/CSU, unofficially also referred to as the Union parties or the Union, is the name of the Bundestag parliamentary faction comprising the Christian Democratic Union of Germany and the Christian Social Union of Bavaria , considered to be sister parties...

, and is currently led by Sigmar Gabriel
Sigmar Gabriel
Sigmar Gabriel is a German politician currently chairing the Social Democratic Party of Germany .On 15 December 1999, after the resignation of Gerhard Glogowski, who had succeeded Gerhard Schröder in office, Gabriel became Minister-President of Lower Saxony and served until 4 March 2003...

.

The SPD governed at the federal level in a grand coalition
Grand Coalition (Germany)
In modern Germany, grand coalition describes a governing coalition of the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, as they are the two largest parties.-Weimar Republic:...

 with the Christian Democratic Union
Christian Democratic Union (Germany)
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It is regarded as on the centre-right of the German political spectrum...

 and the Christian Social Union from 2005 until 27 October 2009. The SPD conceded defeat in the federal election of September 2009, with its share of votes having dropped from 34.2% to 23%, compared to 2005
German federal election, 2005
German federal elections took place on 18 September 2005 to elect the members of the 16th German Bundestag, the federal parliament of Germany. They became necessary after a motion of confidence in Chancellor Gerhard Schröder failed on 1 July...

, and became the largest opposition
Opposition (parliamentary)
Parliamentary opposition is a form of political opposition to a designated government, particularly in a Westminster-based parliamentary system. Note that this article uses the term government as it is used in Parliamentary systems, i.e. meaning the administration or the cabinet rather than the state...

 party represented in the Bundestag
Bundestag
The Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...

. The party participates in ten state
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

 governments, of which seven are governed by SPD Minister-President
Minister-President
A minister-president is the head of government in a number of European countries or subnational governments, in which a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government prevails, who presides over the council of ministers...

s.

The SPD is a full member party of the Party of European Socialists
Party of European Socialists
The Party of European Socialists is a European political party led by Sergei Stanishev, former Prime Minister of Bulgaria. The PES comprises social-democratic national-level political parties primarily from Member state of the European Union, as well as other nations of the European continent. The...

 and the Socialist International
Socialist International
The Socialist International is a worldwide organization of democratic socialist, social democratic and labour political parties. It was formed in 1951.- History :...

. It is Germany's oldest political party, established in 1875, in the German Parliament
Bundestag
The Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...

. It was also one of the first Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

-influenced parties in the world.

Party platform

The SPD was established as a socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 party in 1875. However, the SPD underwent a major shift in policies reflected in the differences between the Heidelberg Program of 1925, which "called for the transformation of the capitalist system of private ownership of the means of production to social ownership", and the Godesberg Program
Godesberg Program
The Godesberg Program was the party program outline of the political course of Germany's social-democratic party, the SPD. It was ratified on November 15, 1959, at an SPD party convention in the town of Bad Godesberg, which is today part of Bonn....

 of 1959, which aimed to broaden its voter base and move its political position toward the centre. After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, under the leadership of Kurt Schumacher
Kurt Schumacher
Dr. Kurt Schumacher , was chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany from 1946 and first Leader of the Opposition in the West German Bundestag parliament from 1949 until his death...

, the SPD re-established itself as a socialist party, representing the interests of the working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 and the trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

s. With the Godesberg Program
Godesberg Program
The Godesberg Program was the party program outline of the political course of Germany's social-democratic party, the SPD. It was ratified on November 15, 1959, at an SPD party convention in the town of Bad Godesberg, which is today part of Bonn....

 of 1959, however, the party evolved from a socialist working-class party to a social-democratic party.

The current party platform
Party platform
A party platform, or platform sometimes also referred to as a manifesto, is a list of the actions which a political party, individual candidate, or other organization supports in order to appeal to the general public for the purpose of having said peoples' candidates voted into political office or...

 of the SPD espouses the goal of social democracy
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

, which is seen as a vision of a societal arrangement in which freedom and social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

 are paramount. According to the party platform, freedom
Freedom (political)
Political freedom is a central philosophy in Western history and political thought, and one of the most important features of democratic societies...

, justice
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

, and social solidarity, form the basis of social democracy. The coordinated social market economy
Social market economy
The social market economy is the main economic model used in West Germany after World War II. It is based on the economic philosophy of Ordoliberalism from the Freiburg School...

 should be strengthened, and its output should be distributed fairly. The party sees that economic system as necessary in order to ensure the affluence of the entire population. The SPD also tries to protect the society's disadvantaged with a welfare state
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

. Concurrently, it advocates a sustainable fiscal policy
Fiscal policy
In economics and political science, fiscal policy is the use of government expenditure and revenue collection to influence the economy....

 that doesn't place a burden on future generations while eradicating budget deficits. In social policy
Social policy
Social policy primarily refers to guidelines, principles, legislation and activities that affect the living conditions conducive to human welfare. Thus, social policy is that part of public policy that has to do with social issues...

, the SPD stands for civil and political rights in an open society
Open society
The open society is a concept originally developed by philosopher Henri Bergson and then by Austrian and British philosopher Karl Popper. In open societies, government is purported to be responsive and tolerant, and political mechanisms are said to be transparent and flexible...

. In foreign policy
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

, the SPD aims at ensuring global peace by balancing global interests with democratic means. Thus, European integration
European integration
European integration is the process of industrial, political, legal, economic integration of states wholly or partially in Europe...

 is one of the main priorities of the SPD.

Internal groupings

The SPD is mostly composed of members belonging to either of the two main wings: Keynesian
Keynesian economics
Keynesian economics is a school of macroeconomic thought based on the ideas of 20th-century English economist John Maynard Keynes.Keynesian economics argues that private sector decisions sometimes lead to inefficient macroeconomic outcomes and, therefore, advocates active policy responses by the...

 social democrats, and the Third Way
Third way (centrism)
The Third Way refers to various political positions which try to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies. Third Way approaches are commonly viewed from within the first- and second-way perspectives as...

, moderate social democrats belonging to the Seeheimer Kreis
Seeheimer Kreis
The Seeheimer Kreis is an official, internal grouping in the Social Democratic Party of Germany . Known for being right-wing within its party, the group promotes comparatively value–conservative politics with relatively liberal economic positions. The group was founded in September 1974...

. While the moderate, Seeheimer Kreis
Seeheimer Kreis
The Seeheimer Kreis is an official, internal grouping in the Social Democratic Party of Germany . Known for being right-wing within its party, the group promotes comparatively value–conservative politics with relatively liberal economic positions. The group was founded in September 1974...

 social democrats strongly support the Agenda 2010
Agenda 2010
The Agenda 2010 is a series of reforms planned and executed by the German government which are aimed at reforming the German social system and labour market. The declared aim of Agenda 2010 is to improve economic growth and thus reduce unemployment....

 reformist programs introduced by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

, the Keynesian social democrats continue to defend classical left-wing policies such as the expansion of the welfare state
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

. The classical left-wing
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

 of the SPD claims that in recent years the welfare state has been curtailed through reform programs such as the Agenda 2010, Hartz IV
Hartz concept
The Hartz concept is a set of recommendations that resulted from a commission on reforms to the German labour market in 2002. Named after the head of the commission, Peter Hartz, it went on to become part of the German government's Agenda 2010 series of reforms, known as Hartz I - Hartz IV...

 and the more economic liberal
Economic liberalism
Economic liberalism is the ideological belief in giving all people economic freedom, and as such granting people with more basis to control their own lives and make their own mistakes. It is an economic philosophy that supports and promotes individual liberty and choice in economic matters and...

 stance of the SPD, which was endorsed by the moderate social democrats.

Social structure

Before World War II, as the main non-revolutionary left-wing party, the Social Democrats fared best among non-Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 workers as well as intellectuals favouring social progressive causes and increased economic equality. Led by Kurt Schumacher
Kurt Schumacher
Dr. Kurt Schumacher , was chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany from 1946 and first Leader of the Opposition in the West German Bundestag parliament from 1949 until his death...

 after World War II, the SPD initially opposed both the social market economy
Social market economy
The social market economy is the main economic model used in West Germany after World War II. It is based on the economic philosophy of Ordoliberalism from the Freiburg School...

 and Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer was a German statesman. He was the chancellor of the West Germany from 1949 to 1963. He is widely recognised as a person who led his country from the ruins of World War II to a powerful and prosperous nation that had forged close relations with old enemies France,...

's drive towards western integration fiercely, but after Schumacher's death, it accepted the social market economy and Germany's position in the Western alliance in order to appeal to a broader range of voters. It still remains associated with the economic causes of unionised employees and working class voters. In the 1990s, the left and moderate wings of the party drifted apart, culminating in a secession of a significant number of party members, which later joined the socialist party WASG, which later merged into The Left
The Left (Germany)
The Left , also commonly referred to as the Left Party , is a democratic socialist political party in Germany. The Left is the most left-wing party of the five represented in the Bundestag....

 (Die Linke) party.

Geographic distribution

Geographically, much of the SPD's current-day support comes from large cities, especially of northern and western Germany and Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. The metropolitan area of the Ruhr Area
Ruhr Area
The Ruhr, by German-speaking geographers and historians more accurately called Ruhr district or Ruhr region , is an urban area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. With 4435 km² and a population of some 5.2 million , it is the largest urban agglomeration in Germany...

, where coal mining
Coal mining
The goal of coal mining is to obtain coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content, and since the 1880s has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United States,...

 and steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 production were once the biggest sources of revenues, have provided a significant base for the SPD in the 20th century. In the state of Bremen
Bremen (state)
The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen is the smallest of Germany's 16 states. A more informal name, but used in some official contexts, is Land Bremen .-Geography:...

, made up of the cities of Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 and Bremerhaven
Bremerhaven
Bremerhaven is a city at the seaport of the free city-state of Bremen, a state of the Federal Republic of Germany. It forms an enclave in the state of Lower Saxony and is located at the mouth of the River Weser on its eastern bank, opposite the town of Nordenham...

, the SPD has governed without interruption since 1949. In southern Germany, the SPD typically garners less support except in the largest cities. At the 2009 federal election, the party lost its only constituency in the entire state of Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

 (in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

). Small town and rural support comes especially from the traditionally Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 areas of northern Germany and Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

 (with notable exceptions such as Western Pomerania where CDU leader Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

 was re-elected in 2005) and a number of university towns. A striking example of the general pattern is the traditionally Catholic Emsland
Emsland
Landkreis Emsland is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany named after the river Ems. It is bounded by the districts of Leer, Cloppenburg and Osnabrück, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia , the district of Bentheim and the Netherlands .- History :For a long time the region of the Emsland was...

, where the Social Democrats generally gain a low percentage of votes, whereas the Reformed Protestant
Reformed churches
The Reformed churches are a group of Protestant denominations characterized by Calvinist doctrines. They are descended from the Swiss Reformation inaugurated by Huldrych Zwingli but developed more coherently by Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger and especially John Calvin...

 region of East Frisia
East Frisia
East Frisia or Eastern Friesland is a coastal region in the northwest of the German federal state of Lower Saxony....

 directly to the north, with its strong traditional streak of anti-Catholism, is one of their strongest constituencies. Further south, the SPD also enjoys solid support in northern Hesse
Hesse
Hesse or Hessia is both a cultural region of Germany and the name of an individual German state.* The cultural region of Hesse includes both the State of Hesse and the area known as Rhenish Hesse in the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state...

 (Hans Eichel
Hans Eichel
Hans Eichel , German politician , was Minister of Finance from 1999-2005.-Background:He was brought up in Kassel where he did his Abitur in 1961. He then completed a degree in German, philosophy, political science, history and education at the universities of Marburg and Berlin, graduating in 1970...

 was mayor of Kassel
Kassel
Kassel is a town located on the Fulda River in northern Hesse, Germany. It is the administrative seat of the Kassel Regierungsbezirk and the Kreis of the same name and has approximately 195,000 inhabitants.- History :...

, then Hesse's minister president, then finance minister in the Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

 administration, while Brigitte Zypries
Brigitte Zypries
Brigitte Zypries is a German politician. She was Federal Minister of Justice of Germany from 2002 to 2009. She is member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany .- Career :...

 served as Justice Minister), parts of Palatinate (Kurt Beck
Kurt Beck
Kurt Beck is a German politician , serving as the Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate since 1994 and as President of the Bundesrat in 2000/01. On May 14, 2006, he succeeded Matthias Platzeck as Chairman of the German Social Democratic Party...

 was party leader until 7 September 2008), the Saarland
Saarland
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

 (political home of one-time candidate for federal chancellor Oskar Lafontaine
Oskar Lafontaine
Oskar Lafontaine is a German politician, former German finance minister, former chairman of the Social Democratic Party and former Minister-President of the state of Saarland. Since 2007 he was co-chairman of The Left...

, defected from the SPD in 1999), and southwestern Baden
Baden
Baden is a historical state on the east bank of the Rhine in the southwest of Germany, now the western part of the Baden-Württemberg of Germany....

 (Marion Caspers-Merk
Marion Caspers-Merk
Marion Caspers-Merk is a German politician and member of the SPD. She was a member of the Bundestag and Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Health. - External links :* * *...

, Gernot Erler).

History

The General German Workers' Association
General German Workers' Association
The General German Workers' Association, in German Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein, ADAV) was founded on 23 May 1863 in Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony by Ferdinand Lassalle and existed under this name until 1875, when it combined with August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht's SDAP to form the...

 (Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein, ADAV), founded in 1863, and the Social Democratic Workers' Party
Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany, in German Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, SDAP, was a German left-wing political party founded on August 7/August 9, 1869 in Eisenach, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach by, among others, Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel...

 (Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, SDAP), founded in 1869, merged in 1875, under the name Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, SAPD). From 1878 to 1890, any grouping or meeting that aimed at spreading socialist principles was banned (anti-Socialist laws), but it still gained support in elections. In 1890, when the ban was lifted and it could again present electoral lists, the party adopted its current name. In the years leading up to World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the party remained ideologically radical in official principle, although many party officials tended to be moderate in everyday politics. By 1912, the party claimed the most votes of any German party.

Despite the agreement of the Second International
Second International
The Second International , the original Socialist International, was an organization of socialist and labour parties formed in Paris on July 14, 1889. At the Paris meeting delegations from 20 countries participated...

 to oppose the First World War, the SPD voted in favor of war in 1914. In response to this and the Bolshevik Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

, members of the left and of the far-left of the SPD formed alternative parties, first the Spartacus League, then the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany
Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany was a short-lived political party in Germany during the Second Reich and the Weimar Republic. The organization was established in 1917 as the result of a split of left wing members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany...

 and later the Communist Party of Germany
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

. After 1918 the SPD played an important role in the political system of the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

, although it took part in coalition governments only in few years (1918–1921, 1923, 1928–1930). Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 prohibited the party in 1933 under the Enabling Act - some party officials were imprisoned, killed or went into exile. In exile, the party used the name Sopade
Sopade
Sopade was the name of the exile organization of the Social Democratic Party of Germany . It operated in Prague from 1933 to 1938, from 1938 to 1940 in Paris and until 1945 in London....

.

Between 1921 and 1923, 350 assassinations of political figures took place.

In 1945, the allied occupants in the Western zones initially allowed four parties to be established, which led to the Christian Democratic Union
Christian Democratic Union (Germany)
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It is regarded as on the centre-right of the German political spectrum...

, the Free Democratic Party
Free Democratic Party (Germany)
The Free Democratic Party , abbreviated to FDP, is a centre-right classical liberal political party in Germany. It is led by Philipp Rösler and currently serves as the junior coalition partner to the Union in the German federal government...

, the Communist Party of Germany
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

, and the SPD being established. In the Soviet Zone of Occupation, the Soviets forced the Social Democrats to form a common party with the Communists (Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

 or SED). In the Western zones, the Communist Party was later (1956) banned by West Germany's Federal Constitutional Court. Since 1949, in the Federal Republic of Germany, the SPD has been one of the two major parties, with the other being the Christian Democratic Union. From 1969 to 1982 and 1998 to 2005 the Chancellors of Germany were Social Democrats whereas the other years the Chancellors were Christian Democrats.

See also

  • Politics of Germany
    Politics of Germany
    The Federal Republic of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic, based on representative democracy. The Chancellor is the head of government, while the President of Germany is the head of state, which is a ceremonial role but with substantial reserve powers.Executive power is vested in the...

  • Party finance in Germany
    Party finance in Germany
    Party finance in Germany became an issue of political discourse, when in 1949 the concept of transparency was discussed in the constitional convention in connection with a new article to be entered into the constitution...

  • List of political parties in Germany
  • Bundestag
    Bundestag
    The Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...

     (Federal Assembly of Germany)
  • Weimar Republic
    Weimar Republic
    The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

  • Kurt Nehrling
    Kurt Nehrling
    Kurt Nehrling was a German Social Democratic politician and member of the German resistance against Hitler. Nehrling was responsible for supplying information to the Soviet Union and was most famously known for hiding banned books...

  • Mierscheid Law
    Mierscheid Law
    The Mierscheid law is hypothesis, published in the German magazine Vorwärts on 14 July 1983 and attributed to the fictitious politician Jakob Maria Mierscheid. It forecasts the Social Democratic Party of Germany 's share of the popular vote based on the size of crude steel production in Western...

  • German election, March 1933
  • Elections in the Free State of Prussia
    Elections in the Free State of Prussia
    The Free State of Prussia held elections to the Landtag between 1918 and 1933. Until the 1930s these elections gave a plurality to the SPD, but this was handed to the NSDAP or Nazi party in the 1930s, generally in line with the rest of Germany....


Further reading

  • Carl E. Schorske
    Carl E. Schorske
    Carl Emil Schorske is an American cultural historian and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. In 1981 he won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture , which remains highly significant to modern European intellectual history...

    , German Social Democracy, 1905–1917: The Development of the Great Schism (Harvard University Press, 1955).
  • Vernon L. Lidtke, The Outlawed Party: Social Democracy in Germany, 1878–1890 (Princeton University Press, 1966).
  • German Social Democratic Party, 1914–1921 (Columbia University Press, 1949).
  • Erich Matthias, The Downfall of the Old Social Democratic Party in 1933 pages 51–105 from Republic to Reich The Making of the Nazi Revolution Ten Essays edited by Hajo Holborn
    Hajo Holborn
    Hajo Holborn was a German-American historian and specialist in modern German history.- Life :...

    , (New York: Pantheon Books, 1972).

External links

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