As this book came about through collaboration between a number of German and British academics, it is appropriate to introduce the theme of ‘party government and political culture’ by making some comparisons between the political systems of the two countries. Since both Britain and West Germany are based on the tenets of liberal democracy and parliamentary government, we should expect the similarities to be numerous. But Germany had only inherited a precarious parliamentary tradition that first developed within the shell of an authoritarian state. It was a legacy which did not promise well for the future of liberal democracy. Yet the ground rules of party government were not just imposed by the occupying powers — they were also accepted by the German political elites. The Federal Republic has now moved towards the practice of alternating government based on two competing party blocs, and any doubts about the working of parliamentary democracy were dispelled in 1969 when the constitution was tested by the first post-war change of government.


Federal Republic Political Culture Liberal Democracy Party System Parliamentary Democracy 
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Copyright information

© Herbert Döring and Gordon Smith 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Herbert Döring
  • Gordon Smith

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