chapter  2
34 Pages

The Godesberg Program: Origins and Implications

WithDiane L. Parness

A more revealing approach is to review the post-war political resuscitation of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and to assess the Godesberg Program as the product of what the SPD had already become. Once one appreciates the aims and intentions of the SPD's new generation of leaders and the future they envisioned for themselves and their party, one can also appreciate why the Godesberg Program's theoretical import is negligible. Kurt Schumacher refused to relax his party's internal structure even after adaptation of a federal system of government, and generally preserved internal unity at the price of greater intraparty democracy. Godesberg's ambiguity about the nature of the Volkspartei and the implications of the strategy for the party's future was what secured safe passage of the program, but it also left the party vulnerable to its leaders' personal interpretations of the Volkspartei strategy, and the vagaries of a strategy designed for electoral gain.