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Businessweek Archives

Germany's Gridlock And Disillusionment

Readers Report


You covered the economic woes of Germany but missed the underlying political causes of the slump ("Germany: Is reunification failing?" International Business, Nov. 15). In the years just prior to the fall of the Wall, many seasoned politicians in the Bundestag were replaced by younger representatives who had won their seats by serving their political parties and not the country. Their inflexibility and aversion to practical solutions has meant total gridlock on everything from illegal aliens to supporting the U.N. militarily. Decisions, when they came at all, were usually dealt out by the Supreme Court and not the legislature.

The Mittelstand, which is the backbone of German industry, depends heavily on the universities and technische Hochschulen for basic research. To finance its ego project of moving the capital from Bonn to Berlin, the government is now cutting back on funds for higher education, thus robbing German industry of its future. All of the industrialized world is hurting in the current recession. Japan, however, is cutting costs and will come out of the recession a lot leaner and meaner, but Germany is adrift.

Although most Germans want nothing to do with the far right, disillusionment is spreading, and the real danger could be that they will not vote at all in the upcoming federal elections. Even this eventuality does not seem to motivate the politicians, most of whom have a guaranteed job for life anyway.

Edward B. Robertson


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