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The Role of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in Domestic West-German Politics, 1969 – 1974: Example of Environmental Policy

Abstract: As soon as the Social Democratic Party (SPD) won the elections to the Federal Diet (the Bundestag) in 1969, negotiations on forming a possible coalition government commenced. In the autumn of that year an agreement was reached between Willy Brandt and Walter Scheel to create a social liberal coalition of the SPD and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), which held until 1974. The coalition eventually collapsed because it could not weather the effects of the first oil crisis on the German economy and the internal problems related to an affair developing around W. Brandt.

Even though it would be interesting to analyse the policies of the coalition government between 1969 and 1974 in their entirety, with W. Brandt´s Ostpolitik and foreign policy being the most recognized legacy, this paper focuses on the FDP, the coalition partner that always stood in the shadow of the larger SPD. What remains relatively unknown and discussed is the transformation of the FDP after 1971, when the party adopted the concept of social liberalism as defined in its reform programme, the Freiburg Principles. The purpose of this article is to help readers understand the FDP´s position within the coalition, whereby environmental policy is used as an example to prove that, despite being the less visible coalition partner, it achieved unprecedented successes in domestic policy. The main research questions are: What did the environmental policy represent to the contemporary government? What were its key defining documents? Who were the most important players in the legislative process? The research draws on primary sources hitherto untapped

Authors: Pavla Kačmárová
Keywords: environmental policy, environmenal protection, scientification of politics, social liberalism, Umweltprogramm
Volume: 10
Issue: 1
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