External Influences on Regime Stability in the GDR: a Linkage Analysis

  • Michael J. Sodaro


For the German Democratic Republic, the linkage between international developments and the domestic political system has traditionally been an intimate one. This has been especially true with respect to the vital connection that prevails between external factors and the internal stability of communist party rule. Perhaps more than any other ruling party in East-Central Europe, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) has been dependent on outside sources of support for its political viability. At the same time, however, the external environment has cast up an array of challenges to the stability of the SED regime, at times with the paradoxical result that both stabilizing and destabilizing influences emanate from the very same sources. It is on this crucial relationship between the international environment and regime stability in the GDR that the present study focuses.


Federal Republic German Democratic Republic Housing Construction Regime Stability Consumer Welfare 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    On Ulbricht’s perceptions, see Michael J. Sodaro, “Ulbricht’s Grand Design: Economics, Ideology, and the GDR’s Response to Detente,” World Affairs, vol. 142, no. 3 (Winter 1980 ), pp. 147–68.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Doris Cornelsen, “The GDR in a Period of Foreign Trade Difficulties: Developments and Prospects for the 1980’s,” in East European Economic Assessment, Part 1 (Washington: Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress, 1981 ) p. 311.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Handbuch DDR-Wirtschaft (Reinbeck: Rowohlt, 1977) p. 333. (Hereafter cited as Handbuch DDR-Wirtschaft.)Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    On these points, see Hartmut Zimmerman, “The GDR in the 1970’s,” Problems of Communism, vol. XXVII, no. 2 (March–April 1978), pp. 38–9.Google Scholar
  5. 28.
    For a study of West German efforts to use trade with its Eastern neighbors as political leverage, see Angela Stent, From Embargo to Ostpolitik: The Political Economy of West German-Soviet Relations, 1955–1980 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981 ); for an analysis of this question as it relates to inter-German trade, see Stahnke, “The Economic Dimensions … ”Google Scholar
  6. 37.
    For an analysis of the GDR’s efforts to obtain oil from Third World producers, see Michael Sodaro, “The GDR and the Third World: Supplicant and Surrogate,” in Michael Radu (ed.), Eastern Europe and the Third World ( New York: Praeger, 1981 ).Google Scholar
  7. 47.
    If state subsidies were to be undertaken in the United States on the same scale as in the GDR, the equivalent figures would be $120 billion per year for food and consumer goods and $24 billion for housing. See Dan Morgan, “E. Germany Feels its Welfare Program Makes Labor Strife Unlikely,” The Washington Post, 15 April 1981, p. A30.Google Scholar
  8. 54.
    For an extended discussion of the GDR’s treatment of dissidents, see Michael J. Sodaro, “Limits to Dissent in the GDR: Fragmentation, Cooptation and Repression,” in Jane L. Curry (ed.), Dissent in Eastern Europe ( New York: Praeger, 1983 ).Google Scholar
  9. 56.
    See the estimates in Werner Volkmer, “East Germany: Dissenting Views in the Last Decade,” in Rudolf L. Tôkés (ed.), Opposition in Eastern Europe (London. Macmillan Press, 1979 ) p. 121.Google Scholar
  10. 61.
    Dan Morgan, “E. Germans Cast Uneasy Eye Toward Poland,” The Washington Post, 11 April 1981, p. A21.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael J. Sodaro and Sharon L. Wolchik 1983

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  • Michael J. Sodaro

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