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The New International, July 1947

 

Gertrude Blackwell

An Analysis of the German Elections

 

From The New International, Vol. 13 No. 5, July 1947, pp. 159–160.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

 

The first elections to be held in Germany under Allied occupation took place approximately one year after the end of the war and the defeat of Hitler. During this period, all powers worked feverishly to assure victory to the particular party favored by their occupation policy. The Russians created their Socialist Unity Party and stuffed the unwilling Social Democrats into its ranks; the British fostered the Social Democrats, with their old-time and older-fashioned right wing leaders; the Americans and British built up the Catholic conservative parties of their respective areas.

In this respect, the elections summarized by us below hardly can be described as “free, democratic expressions of popular opinion.” When the governing power was sure of electoral victory for its party, it permitted the elections to go through. Nevertheless, despite their artificial and highly prejudiced character, the elections can reveal much to us regarding the mood and feelings of the German people, and the German working class. The statistics we have published below seem to indicate clearly enough two important generalizations, or, to be more exact, two generalizations with a corollary attached to the second:

  1. The German working class has chosen the Social Democratic Party as the political instrument by means of which, for the moment, it wishes to express itself. Exclusive of the Russian zone, where it does not exist as a party, the Social Democracy mustered over seven million votes in Germany.
     
  2. Where the hope and possibility of some form of economic revival exists or existed, Stalinism and its party are then judged in terms of Russia and what it has done to Germany. This invariably leads to overwhelming defeat for the Stalinist candidates. The corollary to this generalization is that wherever and whenever conditions worsen and hope fades, the vote of Stalinism increases, and the party tends to be judged by its demagogic proposals. A vote for Stalinism is thus a vote of despair and desperation!

Typical of the elections in the American zone was that held for municipal councils in the various towns and small cities of Bavaria (Bayern), the heart of this zone. The results revealed the essential conservatism of this area and laid a pattern that has been consistently repeated in other elections held under American occupation auspices. The election of May 27, 1946, had the following results:

(1) Christian Social Union Party

678,000 votes

484 seats.

(2) Social Democratic Party

611,000 votes

421 seats

(3) Communist Party

143,000 votes

  47 seats.

(4) Liberal-Democratic Party

  71,000 votes

  34 seats.

General elections in the conservative, Catholic French zone in 1946 were even more emphatically to the right in their overall character. The Christian Democratic Party received close to an absolute majority of the popular vote, as shown in the following figures:

(1) Christian-Democratic Party

1,090,000 votes.

(2) Social Democratic Party

   493,086 votes.

(3) Independents

   410,820 votes.

(4) Communist Party

   152,356 votes.

(5) Liberal-Democratic Party

     45,005 votes.

(6) Party of the Palatinate

     12,293 votes.

Note that (1) the Communists received a bare seven per cent of the vote, although the Saar industrial area is included in this zone, and (2) the outright French organized “Party of the Palatinate” received one-half of one per cent of the popular vote!

Voting in the British zone is more significant and reveals the extent to which the German Social Democracy has been resurrected as a vast voting apparatus, while also emphasizing the heavy defeat administered to Stalinism in this most advanced industrial zone of Germany. We publish statistics on several varied elections held, but all of which show the same tendencies:

General Elections for British Zone
(including lands and small cities)

(1) Christian-Democratic Party

6,863,948 votes.

(2) Social Democratic Party

6,267,699 votes.

(3) Independents

2,718,558 votes.

(4) Lower Saxony Farmer-Labor Party

1,080,186 votes.

(5) Communist Party

   992,745 votes.

Stalinism attained a bare six per cent of the popular vote. The Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats are the major political forces in this zone, as well as, generally speaking, in the western part of Germany.

Rhineland-Westphalen District
(including the Ruhr)

(1) Christian-Democratic Party

2,500,000 votes

6,900 seats.

(2) Social Democratic Party

2,000,000 votes

3,500 seats.

(3) Independents

   800,000 votes

2,600 votes.

(4) Center Party

   400,000 votes

   921 seats.

(5) Communist Party

   300,000 votes

   155 seats.

In the industrial heart of Germany (the Ruhr), Stalinism suffered a major defeat, receiving five per cent of a 6,000,000 popular vote.

Zone-Wide Elections for County and Borough Seats
(October 13, 1946)

(1) Christian-Democratic Party

3,518 seats.

(2) Social Democratic Party

2,549 seats.

(3) Lower Saxony Farmer-Labor Party

   325 seats.

(4) Liberal Party

   317 seats.

(5) Center Party

   211 seats.

(6) Communist Party

   139 seats.

Again Stalinism is at the bottom of the list, trailing behind even the narrowest, most discredited parties of German conservatism. The present rejection of Stalinism by the German workers, under conditions that permit relative expression of democratic voting rights, is overwhelming in its clarity. [1] But, it may be objected, this applies only to the western half of Germany, where Stalinism operates under the handicap of Allied presence. Let us look at results in the Russian occupied half, the eastern section of Germany, where the Stalinist movement is supreme in power, at least.

The Berlin election results are well known and need no repetition. The people of this city voted against both the conservative parties and Stalinism, by giving an absolute majority to the Social Democratic Party. What of the outright Russian zone?

The Socialist Unity Party (Stalinists) won a majority in only three out of the five provinces that make up the Russian zone. In two provinces (Brandenburg and Saxony), they lost to the combined votes of the Christian-Democratic Party and the Liberal-Democratic Party, as follows:

Saxony

Socialist Unity Party

453,457 votes.

Liberal-Democratic Party

378,196 votes.

Christian-Democratic Party

238,073 votes,

a total of 616,269 votes for the latter two parties.


Brandenburg

Socialist Unity Party

705,514 votes.

Combined Liberal-Democratic and
Christian-Democratic Parties

740,517 votes.

Summarizing the total votes of all five provinces, we have the following revealing totals:

Grand total Socialist Unity Party vote

4,960,000

(51 per cent).

Grand total Christian-Democratic
and Liberal-Democratic Parties vote

4,808,000

(49 per cent).

Despite its open terror system, Stalinism musters a bare majority. If the Social Democratic Party was permitted to exist, it is clear that the election results would parallel those of the rest of Germany.


Footnote

1. The April 21, 1947, elections in the British zone, the latest to be held, reveal a trend toward Stalinism – clearly a result of the food crisis, intense hostility to the British failures and, at the same time, a sharp warning to the authorities. Only 61 per cent of 14 million eligible voted, with the popular vote adding up as follows:

Social Democrats

3,131,127 votes;

Christian Democrats

2,747,715 votes;

Communists

   891,026 votes;

Center

   597,734 votes;

Free Democrats

   568,868 votes.

The Stalinist vote totaled 11 per cent of the total; a gain of 5 per cent over the previous popular election.