Recruitment and representation

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Recruitment and representation a study of the social backgrounds and political career patterns of members of the West German Bundestag, 1949-1969
Added title page title:
West German Bundestag, 1949-1969
Watson, Gerald Glenn, 1945- ( Dissertant )
McQuown, O. R. ( Thesis advisor )
Dauer, Manning J. ( Reviewer )
Legg, Keith R. ( Reviewer )
Rosenbaum, W. A. ( Reviewer )
Conradt, David P. ( Reviewer )
Paul, Harry W. ( Reviewer )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
Physical Description:
xiii, 203 leaves. : illus. ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Ambition ( jstor )
Constituents ( jstor )
Political candidates ( jstor )
Political elections ( jstor )
Political interest groups ( jstor )
Political organizations ( jstor )
Political parties ( jstor )
Political structures ( jstor )
Political systems ( jstor )
Politicians ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- Political Science -- UF ( lcsh )
Political Science thesis Ph. D ( lcsh )
Political parties -- Germany (West) ( lcsh )
Politics and government -- Germany (West) ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Systematic empirical analysis into the process of leadership selection has made substantial progress since World War II. In recent years there has been a rising interest in model-building and increasing sophistication in the research design and selection of variables. The primary purpose of this thesis is to describe the social backgrounds and career patterns of some 1,161 Members of the West German Federal Parliament, the Bundestag. The analysis includes all Deputies from the two major political parties, the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) , who have served in the period 1949-1969. The study begins with a survey of the literature on political recruitment and an attempt to conceptualize the process in terms of the interaction between motivations and perceptions of opportunity and risk. This is followed by a discussion of the political setting, with emphasis placed on the historical role of parliaments in Germany, the contemporary governmental structure, the electoral system, the parties, and aspects of political culture. Most important is the central position of the political parties which, through their manipulation of the electoral statutes and organizational control of the House, effectively diminish the role of the electorate and the independence of Deputies. Low levels of political participation, beyond the narrow act of voting, however, suggest that "government for the people" may be a necessity. Deputies are older, better educated, have more prestigious occupations, and are more likely to be male than the general populace. Only in religious affiliation do they even roughly mirror society. Although legislators do not accurately mirror the electorate at large, inter-party differences are, in direction, generally consistent with the parties' contrasting social bases in the electorate. It is evident that people are differentially recruited into the party structures on the basis of their social backgrounds. Given the distribution of their social support in the electorate and, particularly in the CDU, the existence of a number of relatively well organized subgroups within the party, the parties have been forced to give some attention to social criteria and group affiliation as they go about the task of selecting district candidates and balancing the party lists. But social restrictions are exceedingly broad and the parties have been largely successful in setting more specifically political requirements for high elective office, notably a considerable amount of party and public office-holding experience. Political careers are analyzed in terms of a basic four-fold typology of career patterns. This is followed by a more detailed examination of the sequential aspect of public and party office-holding and an attempt to measure the amount of "structure" in political careers. In the public arena opportunities for advancement to Parliament are best for those persons presently serving in a local council, county council, or Landtag. In the parties, local leaders and primary-level executive committee members are most likely to be advanced to the House. We have found that opportunities are structured to a significant degree, that this structure is national in scope and, somewhat paradoxically, transcends the parties at the same time that it is channeled through them. Finally, while the shape of the opportunity structure is undergoing constant incremental change, developments are clearly in the direction of more structure, not less.
Thesis (M.A.) -- University of Florida.
Bibliography: leaves 191-202.
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Recruitment and Representation: A Study of the Social
Backgrounds and Political Career Patterns of Members
of the West German Bundestag, 1949-1969





Copyright by
Gerald Glenn Watson

To Diane and Christy


The author wishes to express his sincere appreciation

to Dr. Keith R. Legg and Dr. David P. Conradt, whose

guidance and encouragement have been instrumental at every

stage of research and writing. In addition, the Department

of Political Science at the University of Florida has been

most generous in providing the necessary funds for computer

time and for keypunching the biographical data.

The -uthor also wants to thank his wife, Diane, for

her patience with a frequently preoccupied husband. As

critic, booster, companion, and typist she has made the

completion of this work possible.

The constructive criticism and encouragement the author

has received have undoubtedly improved the final product.

Any shortcomings are, of course, the fault of the author..



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS................................... iv

LIST OF TABLES..................................... vii

LIST OF FIGURES .................................... x

ABSTRACT.......................................... xi


1. INTRODUCTION................................ 1
Ambition Theory and the Structure of
Political Opportunities............ 2
The Research Design ...................... 10
Notes.................................... 19

CONCEPTUALIZATION ...................... 24
A Definition............................. 24
Political Participation.................. 26
Models of Political Recruitment.......... 32
Factors in the Recruitment Process........ 36
Needs and Perceptions ................. 36
Social Background...................... 38
Party and Constituency................ 42
Recruitment and Representation: Reflec-
tions on Outputs ................... 47
Notes........................ ............ 53

3. THE SETTING................................ 56
The Historical Role of Parliament........ 57
The Founding of the Federal Republic..... 64
The Structure of Government........... 66
The Electoral System.................. 70
The Political Parties................. 74
Political Culture and Political Partic-
pation............................. 79
The Role of the Bundestag and the
Individual Deputy............... 82
Notes....................... ............. 88


Variations on a Theme: The Social Struc-
ture of the Parties................. 96
Age...................................* 96
The Role of Women ..................... 100
Religion.............................. o103
Education............................. 104
Occupation............................ 109
A Socio-political Background Typology. 112
Social Factors and Electoral Status...... 118
List versus District Seats............ 118
Safe versus Unsafe List Position...... 121
Constituencies and Social Selection...... 123
Notes.................................... 131

The Size of the Opportunity Structure.... 137
The,Shape of the Opportunity Structure... 140
/Four Background Patterns.............. 140
Base Offices.......................... 144
Public Office Patterns................ 147
Career Indices........................... 159
The Impact on Candidacy.................. 168
District versus List Candidacy........ 168
Safe versus Unsafe List Seats......... 168
District Competitiveness.............. 170
Notes.................... ............... 175

6. CONCLUSION................................... 176
Notes.................................... 187

APPENDIX .......................................... 188

REFERENCES ........................................ 191

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH................................ 203



PARLIAMENT ............................... 61

GERMANY................................... 69

PARTY 1949-1969............................ 72


POPULACE................................... 93

PARTY..................................... 97



PARTY SUPPORTERS......................... 104

DEPUTIES ................................. 105

OF DEPUTIES BY PARTY..................... 107


BY PARTY ................................. 114


LIST OF TABLES (continued)


DEPUTIES ................................... 120


DEPUTIES ................................. 125


19. BUNDESTAG OPPORTUNITY RATES .................. 138

DEPUTIES.................................. 141

21. PUBLIC BASE OFFICES............................ 145

22. PARTY BASE OFFICES ....................... .... 146

GROUND..................................... 148

PUBLIC CAREER PATTERNS................... 151



27. POLITICAL BACKGROUND INDICES................. 160

(mean values)............................. 166



LIST OF TABLES (continued)



ITIVENESS ................................ 172





1. THE PROCESS OF CERTIFICATION.................. 33



Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate Council of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Gerald Glenn Watsen

December, 1971

Chairman: 0. Ruth McQuown
Major Department: Political Science

Systematic empirical analysis into the process of

leadership selection has made substantial progress since

World War II. In recent years there has been a rising

interest in model-building and increasing sophistication

in the research design and selection of variables. The

primary purpose of this thesis is to describe the social

backgrounds and career patterns of some 1,161 Members of

the West German Federal Parliament, the Bundestag. The

analysis includes all Deputies from the two major political

parties, the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social

Union (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany

(SPD), who have served in the period 1949-1969.

The study begins with a survey of the literature on

political recruitment and an attempt to conceptualize the

process in terms of the interaction between motivations

and perceptions of opportunity and risk. This is followed

by a discussion of the political setting,with emphasis

placed on the historical role of parliaments in Germany,

the contemporary governmental structure, the electoral

system, the parties, and aspects of political culture.

Most important is the central position of the political

parties which, through their manipulation of the electoral

statutes and organizational control of the House, effec-

tively diminish the role of the electorate and the

independence of Deputies. Low levels of political partici-

pation, beyond the narrow act of voting, however, suggest

that "government for the people" may be a necessity.

DeputLes are older, better educated, have more

prestigious occupations, and are more likely to be male

than the general populace. Only in religious affiliation

do they even roughly mirror society. Although legislators

do not accurately mirror the electorate at large, inter-

party differences are, in direction, generally consistent

with the parties' contrasting social bases in the elector-

ate. It is evident that people are differentially recruited

into the party structures on the basis of their social

backgrounds. Given the distribution of their social support

in the electorate and, particularly in the CDU, .the

existence of a number of relatively well organized subgroups

within the party, the parties have been forced to give some

attention to social criteria and group affiliation as they

go about the task of selecting district candidates and

balancing the party lists. But social restrictions are

exceedingly broad and the parties have been largely

successful in setting more specifically political require-

ments for high elective office, notably a considerable

amount of party and public officeholding experience.

Political careers are analyzed in terms of a basic

four-fold typology of career patterns. This is followed

by a more detailed examination of the sequential aspect

of public and party officeholding and an attempt to

measure the amount of "structure" in political careers.

In the public arena opportunities for advancement to

Parliament are best for those persons presently serving in

a local council, county council, or Landtag. In the

parties, local leaders and primary-level executive

committee members are most likely to be advanced to the

House. We have found that opportunities are structured

to a significant degree, that this structure is national

in scope and, somewhat paradoxically, transcends the parties

at the same time that it is channelled through them.

Finally, while the shape of the opportunity structure is

undergoing constant incremental change, developments are

clearly in the direction of more structure, not less.




Empirical studies of political recruitment have

been conducted for at least three-quarters of a century

(see Haynes, 1895) and a normative interest in who should

rule can be traced back to Plato. Various writers have

argued that recruitment studies can shed light on such

diverse and important political questions as the nature

of society's dominant values, the degree to which elites

are "representative," the level of systemic integration,

the kinds of change taking place in the power structure,

and the requirements for political success (see Seligman,

1959: 154; Matthews, 1954: 38; Quandt, 1970: 184-189).

The most common studies are concerned with the social

backgrounds of officeholders. Much less attention has

been devoted to "the intramural sorting and screening

processes" which result in election to public office

(Prewitt and Eulau, 1971: 293). As Seligman (1959: 154)

wrote more than a decade ago, "The 'who' has been stressed

to the neglect of the 'how' of recruitment."

The primary purposes of this paper are to describe

the career patterns of some 1,61 Members of the West

German Federal Parliament, the Bundestag, to relate

those patterns to certain constituency characteristics,

and to indicate whether or not these findings are

consistent with hypotheses based on the provocative

thesis on "political ambition" which Joseph Schlesinger

(1966) has developed and applied to the American

political scene. Since the emphasis here is clearly

on the political experiences and strategic positions of

individuals within the structure of political opportunity,

it should serve as a partial corrective to the over-

emphasis on the "who" of recruitment.

Ambition Theory and the Structure of Political Opportunities

Systematic empirical analysis into the process of

leadership selection has made substantial progress since

World War II.1 In recent years there has been a rising

interest in model-building, greater awareness of the need

to relate chosen variables to some kind of theory, and

increasing sophistication in the research design and

selection of variables (see, for example, Jacob, 1962;

Browning, 1968; Schlesinger, 1966; Kornberg and Winsborough,

1968). As one investigator observed recently:

During a relatively short period of
time, research has advanced from
inquiries into the social back-
ground of legislators to more com-
plex studies, in which recruit-
ment has been related to the char-
acteristics of the electorate,
the workings of party organizations,
or the orientations and behavior
of legislators (Czudnowski, 1970: 216).

Despite significant advancement, recruitment studies, the

vast majority of which continue to emphasize social back-

ground factors, have been severely criticized for a

variety of reasons. Perhaps the most important criticism

is that the chosen variables lack significance and do

not improve our ability to predict behavior (see Jacob,

1962: 706; Meynaud, 1961: 525-526; Schlesinger, 1966:

12-13; Edinger and Searing, 1967; Searing, 1969).2 At

the same time, results are reported in such idiosyncratic

fashion that meaningful comparison becomes extremely

difficult, if not impossible (Quandt, 1970: 182).3 In

both cases, particularly the former, the difficulty stems

from the lack of an explicit theoretical framework which

can guide research and promote a needed degree of uniformity.

One of the most suggestive and potentially useful

approaches to the comparative study of political recruitment

has been the development of ambition theory as a viable

alternative to social background analysis (see Schlesinger,

1966; Schlesinger, 1967).4 The concept of political

ambition and the research orientation that stems from it

are admirably suited to meet the criticisms mentioned

above. An ambition theory of politics brings a unique

perspective to the study of political recruitment by

drawing attention to the political experiences and

strategic positions of individuals. If politics is a

game, then ambition theory directs our attention to the

successful strategies for winning, or advancing in

the game. "From the perspective of ambition theory

. such mundane data as the tenure and turnover of

officeholders, office successions, and the ages of elective

officials take on major significance" (Schlesinger, 1966:


Each of us knows what ambition is. We view it in

ourselves as a desirable characteristic, in others some-

what less favorably. It is a word brimming with

connotative meanings; some favorable, many not. It is

manifest .n our distrust of politicians and politics

itself, a dirty game in which self-interest prevails.

Little systematic use, however, has been made of ambition

as a concept of political analysis. Those who have

used it rigorously, such as Downs (1965) and Schlesinger,

have been greatly influenced by economic theory.

Schlesinger (1966: vii), for example, sees politics as

"a series of rational marginal choices made by men compet-

ing for power within a given set of political rules."

Quite obviously, the ambitious politician is an

abstraction, just as is Economic Man. It is, however,

a useful analytic device with a high degree of face

validity. Thus, Schlesinger's (1966: 14) answer to

those who prefer some other cause of action--social,

psychological, or ideological--is straightforward:

these are not "political" explanations, whereas ambition

places a "political perspective on background data."

Ambition gives direction to the competition which

Schlesinger describes and it is crucial for system

stability and responsiveness:

A political system unable to kindle
ambitions for office is as much in
danger of breaking down as one unable
to restrain ambitions. Representative
government, above all, depends on a
supply of men so driven; the desire for
election becomes the electorates'
restraint upon its public officials.
No more irresponsible government is
imaginable than one of high-minded
men unconcerned for their political
futures (1966: 2).

What he means by it is quite clear: it is the overt

goal orientation of the individual political actor.

Self-interest lies at the heart of his theory, but

it is the explicit, personal ambition of the individual

operating within a set of opportunities which he can-

not influence which distinguishes Schlesinger's approach

from that of others.

Ambition theory can be briefly described in terms

of one major theorem and two corollaries. The central

assumption is the deceptively simple idea already

mentioned: "a politician's behavior is a response to

his office goals" (Schlesinger, 1966:6). Closely

related to this are these major corollaries:

(1) "The ambitions of any politician flow from
the expectations which are reasonable for a
man in his position" (Schlesinger, 1966: 9).

(2) "We can bring order to the office ambitions
of politicians only if we can find order in
their chances or opportunities for office"
(Schlesinger, 1966: 11).

The corollaries are interrelated because opportunities

must be structured in order for the investigator to

reasonably assess the direction of ambition for persons

in different locations in the hierarchy of political

office.5 It should also be clear that ambition theory

contains both an undifferentiated motivational component

and an implicit perceptual component, since the individual

must be capable of perceiving that certain actions

taken by himself have a reasonable prospect of maximizing

goal attainment. But perceptions are more usually the

concern of psychologists and social psychologists, and

it is at this point that Schlesinger makes an inferential

leap that has important implications for research.

Schlesinger (1966: 198) assumes that by delineating

the structure of opportunities inferences can be made

about the directions of political ambitions and possible

behavioral consequences. His approach to ambition, then,

is purely inferential since substantive research is

limited to identifying the size and shape of the formal

opportunity structure (1966: 20).6 It is important to

understand that ambition is a theoretical construct

whose empirical referent is the opportunity structure.

Thus, the research orientation which we share with

Schlesinger emphasizes the structure and sequence of politi-

cal experiences in the politician's background. Key

variables are: the opportunity rate, base offices,

Manifest offices, first and penultimate offices,

and the age at which a particular office is attained

(see Schlesinger, 1966: 37-56, 70-118 and 172-193;

Watson, 1969: 38-111). These terms will be discussed

in more detail in the substantive chapters. For

the moment it is sufficient to point out that use of

these key political career variables allowed Schlesinger

(1966: 93) to clearly distinguish Senatorial from

Gubernatorial careers, a further indication of the

importance of taking the office experiences of individuals

into account in any study of leadership selection.

Since its rather sophisticated formulation by

Schlesinger, the notion of political ambition has

been fruitfully applied by several investigators,

including this author. Soule (1969) interviewed

97 of 110 Members of the Michigan House of Repre-

sentatives and identified their ambitions as either

"progressive" or "non-progressive," depending on

whether or not they reported a desire to seek higher

political office. He found that progressive ambitions

were positively related at significant levels to:

(1) early political socialization, (2) certain perscn-

ality traits and (3) a legislator's "representational"

and "areal" role orientations (449-454). Mezey (1970)

has developed a "model" of congressional recruitment

(U. S. House of Representatives) in terms of three

variables: (1) inter-party opportunities for congressional

seats, (2 intra-party opportunities and (3) the past

elective experience of candidates. He found that

successful majority party candidates were more likely

to have held previous political office and had lower

personnel turnover rates than in the minority party (566).

Finally, Watson (1969) has described the career patterns

of the state Parliament, state government and Bundestag

delegation from Lower Saxony, one of the Laender of

the Feder3l Republic of Germany. Careers were found to be

more structured than for U. S. Senators or Governors (107),

and there were two identifiable opportunity structures,

one centered upon the Landtaq and Landesreqierung,

the other on the Bundestag (112).

While all of these investigations lend support to

the notion of political ambition as a useful research

orientation, only one has gone outside the American

context (Watson, 1969), and that largely at a sub-

national level.7 There are a number of problems involved

in generalizing from the American case, not the least

of which is that American politics is widely recognized

to be surprisingly pragmatic, suggesting that ambition

may play a unique role here.8 Czudnowski has outlined

other potential problems stemming from generalizations

based on the rather unique features of "Anglo-American"

political systems in the following statement:

These systems share at least two
characteristics: a plurality-
system of elections in single-
member districts, and a political
infrastructure based essentially on
a two-party system. Thus, two impor-
tant variables in the analysis of
recruitment are held constant, and a
third--the degree of inter-party
competitiveness--is defined in terms
of a two-party setting with single-
member districts (1970: 217 ).

Disregarding for the moment the precise nature of the

differences between the American and West German political

systems, which will be discussed in the third chapter,

it is clear that the utility of ambition theory rests on

the accumulation of readily comparable data for a number

of systems. The ambition perspective may prove to be

no more fruitful than social background analysis, but

the high degree of face validity and preliminary findings

would argue against such an interpretation. At any rate,

such uncertainty as exists does not mitigate against

the collection of data, since any conclusions about the

ultimate utility of political ambition as an organizing

concept must be deferred until such data has been

collected and submitted to rigorous analysis.

The present undertaking, then, although limited to

a single country, was designed to improve our capacity

for making significant comparisons by replicating

aspects of Schlesinger's work in the German context.

By focusing on clearly political variables, the office

experiences of legislators, and by tying these to

a theoretical referent, namely, ambition theory, it is

hoped that most of the objections mentioned it conjunction

with social background analysis can be overcome, or

at least minimized. In addition, the problem of com-

parability should be lessened by the employment of

similarly coded variables. The present research then

can be viewed as a contribution to the requisite data

base, as well as being a case study of parliamentary

recruitment capable of standing on its own merits.

This is particularly the case, since the data has been

filed in readily available form for use in subsequent


The Research Design

Once it was determined that a study of Bundestag

recruitment was desirable and feasible, given the

availability of information and time, a number of

critical decisions remained.'0 In the following section

six of these critical decisions and their impact on

data collection, reporting, and interpretation will be

discussed. The first four decisions are practical and

involve the need to set definite parameters to the study.

The latter two more clearly involve the kind of data to be

collected and the manner in which it is to be reported.

The first two decisions had a critical impact on

the scope of research because they maximized the number

of cases to be considered. The first decision was not

to sample, but to collect information on an entire

population. The reasoning here was simply that this

maximized reliability of the findings and eliminated

dependence on tests of statistical significance. The

second decision was to collect information on all

Bundestag sessions since the creation of the Federal

Republic in 1949. A structure of opportunity develops

over time, and it was thought desirable to include the

greatest possible span of time in the calculations.1I

A more important consideration was that this approach

would maximize the flexibility of data manipulation,

Since longitudinal, sessional, or aggregate analysis

could be conducted.12

A third decision was made to limit data collection

to Abqeordneten, or Deputies, from the two major parties.

The Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian

affiliate, the Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), and the

Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) have been

represented in every Bundestag session and have always

been the largest parties, never polling a combined total

of less than 60.2 per cent of the vote (see Plischke,

1969: 71, 163; Conradt, 1970: 343). In the last election

(1969) they polled 87.9 per cent of the vote and

received 94.0 per cent of the Bundestag mandates

(Conradt, 1970: 343). The only other party presently in

the Bundestag, the Free Democratic Party (FDP), has never

gotten more than 12.8 per cent of the vote (1961)

and received less than half that amount (5.8 per cent)

in the 1969 elections (see Conradt 1970: 343). They

have not won a direct seat since 1957. The major reason

for limiting data collection to the major parties is

that most of the minor party delegations have been so

small and unstable (Obermann, 1956: insert following

p. 44) that it would be extremely difficult to establish

meaningful career patterns. One could make a good case

for including the FDP, but since one of the major goals

is to relate career patterns to constituency characteristics,

for which purpose the FDP is obviously unsuited, it was

decided to simplify matters by eliminating that party

from the analysis altogether.

The fourth decision is not an obvious one, but it

was hinted at in the last paragraph: we are studying

Members of Parliament, not candidates. While this is a

hidden decision, it is nonetheless, a particularly crucial

one because it limits the kinds of generalizations that

we can make. Most important, it seriously hinders our

ability to ascertain those background experiences which

improve one's chances for success in politics by making

comparisons between successful and unsuccessful candidates

impossible. Schlesinger (1966), Kornberg and Winsborough

(1968) and Mezey (1970) illustrate the successful use of

this kind of information. The lack of available data

(except for occupation in a few instances) forced this

regrettable limitation. Whenever possible, information

about candidate characteristics derived from secondary

sources (Zeuner, 1970; Loewenberg, 1966; Fishel, 1970)

will be given for comparative purposes.

These four decisions define the universe of subjects,

all major-party Bundestag Deputies serving in the period

1949-1969, but tell nothing about the kinds of information

to be collected on each individual, or the manner in

which it will be reported. To this, one must turn to

the other major decisions mentioned earlier.

The fifth major decision was to collect both social

background and political career data on each subject.

Although initially uncertain as to the use which would

be made of the former information, several considerations

entered into the decision to broaden the data universe

beyond the more strictly political categories. One

factor, for example, was simply the belief that, since

the information was available, it was better to record

it now than to regret the omission at a later point.

A second, and more important consideration, however, was

the desire to have some variables which could be directly

compared with the findings of other German studies. As

we shall see momentarily, major problems of comparability

still exist, but the data has proven helpful, particularly

in the construction of a composite occupational back-

ground variable.


The sixth decision could be broken down into several

choices, but the ultimate result was a decision to

emphasize an individual's initial Bundestag recruitment

and only secondarily to collect information on each

subsequent re-election. This is an important decision

because of the interest in the sequence of officeholding

in a person's background. Sequential coding of first

and penultimate offices, therefore, was done only for

a person's initial entry into the Bundestag. For each

subsequent: election only simultaneously held offices were

listed, from which it is impossible to determine sequence.

This decision reinforced a broad, underlying choice to

consider the individual as the unit of analysis, without

regard tc the session in which he served. Each person

is considered only once in determining career sequence,

rather than separately for each session in which he served,

thus eliminating weighted representation of persons

elected to more than one term.13

There were, of course, may other decisions that had

to be made. The way in which variables were coded, for

example, determines to a large extent the kinds of

manipulations possible and the way in which findings are

presented. But these choices are rather specific and

can be discussed more effectively when dealing with

individual variables. It is more relevant at this point

to indicate how this study differs from prior investigations

of Bundestag recruitment and in what sense it may be

considered a significant advance.

The number of German recruitment studies is not

large, but a surprisingly wide range of subject has been

explored. In addition to a number of works on the

Bundestag, general studies of elite recruitment (Edinger,

1960; Zapf, 1965), party leadership selection (Mayntz,

1961; Edinger, 1961), cabinet formation (Knight, 1952;

Loewenberg, 1966: 219-263), and the recruitment of local

and state public officeholders (Mayntz, 1961; Watson, 1969)

have been conducted. Until recently, most research

stemmed from an interest in determining the degree to

which ties with the totalitatian past had been broken

(Kirchheimer, 1950; Edinger, 1960; Edinger, 1961).

But as the German political system has stabilized and

public support for its institutions has grown, this

explicit, somewhat pathological, orientation has


Whatever the motivation, most recruitment studies

are largely descriptive and lack a rigorous theoretical

framework (see, for example, Kitzinger, 1960; Obermann,

1956; Kaufmann et al., 1961; Zeuner, 1970). Some

are excellent in their own right (Kitzinger, 1960;

Domes, 1964; Kaufmann et al., 1961), but others

(see, for example, Obermann, 1956) skirt the borders of

insignificance and are clearly the kind of work Matthews

(1954: 59) had in mind when he wrote that "one always

is impressed by the industry, patience, and arithmetical

skill which have gone into constructing these tables,

but not always by their political significance."

The only major study of Bundestag recruitment that

does employ a sophisticated framework is Gerhard

Loewenberg's Parliament in the German Political System

(1966).15 The scope of this book extends far beyond

political recruitment, as the author attempts to survey

the historical role of Farliament, its present position

in the legislative process and its effectiveness in

representation. Loewenberg's chapter on recruitment is

primarily concerned with assessing the relationship between

recruitment, the social and political backgrounds of

Members, and the functions of the Bundestag in the German

political system (1966: 40-130). The analysis is based

on the following explicit hypothesis:

The recruitment of members of parliament
is affected by a number of related
and relatively stable variables.
These include public orientations
toward members of parliament, the
material and psychological rewards and
conditions of the mandate, the
organization and membership structure
of the political parties, their
ideological commitments and their
dependence on related interest
groups, the pattern of inter-party
competition, and the requirements
of the electoral law (Loewenberg, 1966:

Loewenberg's work is excellent in every respect. It

is comprehensive, sophisticated and sensitive. In a word,

it is the indispensable source for an understanding of


the role of the Bundestag in the German political system.

But, as a study of political recruitment, it has several

weaknesses which must be mentioned.16 First of all, most

attention is devoted to social background characteristics,

such as education, occupation, and religion, although some

consideration is given to age factors and prior political

experience. More important, however, is the fact that

this is not really a study of recruitment at all, at

least as we have implicitly used that term, but rather a

study of the composition of the house at a particular

moment in time, in this case October 15, 1957, when

the first meeting of the Third Bundestag took place

(Loewenb-rg, 1966: 84). This distinction is not

insignificant, as the reader may first imagine. Rather,

it brings us squarely to a consideration of the ways

in which this undertaking differs from previous research.

The most common type of study and, in the view of

some, the least interesting is "the analysis of a single

political unit at a single point in time" (Quandt,

1970: 182). This clearly separates the present research,

which covers the twenty-year period 1949-1969, from

Loewenberg's work and, indeed, almost all other recruit-

ment studies, whether in Germany or elsewhere.

There are also less crucial distinguishing features

which serve to separate this project from certain other

studies. For example, Fishel (1970) surveyed 173

candidates for the fifth (1965) session, far less than

the total population with which we are concerned.

Other investigators have looked at Parliamentary

recruitment in one or several Laender, either for a

single election (Kaufmann et al., 1961; Watson, 1969) or

for several sessions (Varain, 1961).

This project is a significant advance over previous

research for at least three reasons. First, it is, by

almost any measure, the most comprehensive study of

Bundestag recruitment yet completed. Second, the emphasis

on initial recruitment based on a population covering

a twenty-year time period should serve as a useful

complement to momentary, or sessional, studies. Finally,

because of the manner in which the data has been collected

and stored, and particularly because information has

been obtained on subsequent re-election, a great variety

of data manipulations are possible. It is perfectly possible,

for example, to re-order the data for sessional or true

longitudinal analysis, although this will not be done

for this paper. Finally, although little attempt will

be made here to relate recruitment patterns to political

outputs, the data is readily available for such inves-

tigations in the future.17 It is hoped that it will be

a research tool of continuing utility as this writer and

others explore the implications of recruitment patterns

for behavior.


1. Excellent critical surveys of the literature
are contained in Jacob (1962), Meller (1960), Meynaud
(1961). Older, but still useful, is Matthews (1954:
chs. 2-3). The reader may also want to consult the
extensive bibliographies in the following: Beck and
McKechnie (1962); Marvick (1961: 334-343); Edinger (1967:
Introduction and 348-366); LaPalombara and Weiner (1966:
462-464); Quandt (1970: 214-238).

2. For example, Jacob (1962: 706) writes:
As purely information sources these
studies are without equal. Yet
their information is frequently left
unstructured; the absence of a
theoretical framework leaves the
reader wondering about the signifi-
cance of it all.
Even more definitive is Donald Searing's (1969:
490) comment:
Given the present state of knowledge
concerning attitude formation and
change, we can conclude in the strongest
terms possible for discursive social-
science analysis of this nature that
the background taxonomy currently
employed in elite studies is inadequate
for forecasting attitudinal distrib-
utions among elite populations.

3. Although recruitment studies have been-severely
criticized for a variety of reasons, one of the most
telling is simply that data collection and preparation
has not usually been approached with comparative analysis
in mind (Quandt, 1970: 182). Thus, the most common type
of recruitment study focuses on a single body at a unique
moment in time, which makes cross-national or even long-
itudinal comparisons exceedingly difficult, particularly
when one takes into account the highly personalistic
manner in which such variables as occupation are coded.
- As examples of the attempt to cope with the problem of
comparability, the reader should look at Quandt (1970)
and Ralf Dahrendorf's exciting and insightful book,
Society and Democracy in Germany (1969: especially chs.

4. This is not to suggest that social background
data is irrelevant to the process of political recruitment.
As will be shown in the next chapter, it plays a legitimate,
if limited role. Critics have wielded their ax too
freely, justified their conclusions by setting up straw
men to be easily toppled, and failed to come to grips
with the real complexity of the relationship between
social class, recruitment, and behavior.

5. Schlesinger suggests that ambitions may take
three directions (1966: 10). If the politician wants
a particular office for a specified period and then plans
to withdraw from public office, his ambitions are "discrete."
If he wishes to make a long-run career out of a particular
position, his ambitions are "static." Finally, if he
wishes to attain an even higher office than he presently
holds or is seeking, his ambitions are "progressive."

6. This is admittedly one of the key weaknesses of
ambitions theory as it is employed by this author and
Schlesinger. There is certainly an element of choice
involved in deciding to analyze aggregate data rather
than conduct in-depth psychological interviews, or, more
superficially, to ask the politician about his ambitions.
Schlesinger (1966: 198) writes: "I am well aware that
I have not demonstrated either that American politicians do
in fact perceive their opportunities as I have described
them or that the opportunity structure affects political
aspirations." There are advantages which may override this
limitation, however, notably that data is more readily
available, the model can be extended to include other
historical epochs, and generalizations may be more meaning-
ful. In addition, there is the practical consideration
that understanding the structure of opportunities is
logically prior to bringing order to ambitions. Thus,
Jacob and Browning (1964) have found upon direct examination
that ambitions are not distributed randomly, but intimately
related to available opportunities.

7. Schlesinger (1967) has also made limited cross-
national career comparisons for the U.S., Canada,
Australia, Great Britain, and France. The depth of
analysis, however, is hardly comparable to his seminal
study of the structure of political opportunities in
the United States.

8. Contrast, for example, Sorauf's (1968: 3)
contention that American parties are unusually pre-
occupied with contesting elections with Kirchheimer's
(1966: 51) view of the German situation where "hankering
for the spoils of government by impatient politicians
is not a major element in political party life, nor
does it force what one may call an electoral style on
political competition."

9. The biographical data for this study and a
detailed codebook are filed with the political science
data lab, Department of Political Science, Universtiy of

10. The basic data sources for this study are the
official biographical sketches for each member contained
in the Amtliches Handbuch des deutschen Bundestages,
Wahloeriode II-VI (1953-1969). This information is
supplemented when necessary by consulting Wer ist Wer?
and Who's Who in Germany, standard biographical reference
works. Information on the demographic characteristics
of the 248 elective constituencies has been kindly
provided by Dr. David Conradt, who has gathered the
information from standard statistical publications
of the Federal Republic.

11. A similar-justification has been employed by
Prewitt and Eulau (1971) in their study of the social
bias in Iradership selection. In that study the authors
summed and averaged electoral turnout over a ten-year
period and justified the decision by arguing that
"our purpose here was to neutralize secular trends
precisely because we were more interested in reconstruct-
ing the politician's 'psycho-political life space,'
than in describing 'reality"' (297).

12. An understanding of these terms is essential
for grasping the basic argument advanced later in the
chapter for the uniquity of the project. As we employ
these terms, "longitudinal" analysis means the study of
change over time. "Sessional" analysis, on the other
hand, means the study of a particular political unit
at a given moment in time. Obviously, this can be
employed successively to create a kind of longitudinal
analysis, when the sessions are used as discrete points
along a time continuum. In this paper, however,
we will primarily rely on what is called, for lack of
a better term, "aggregate" analysis. By this we mean
the consideration of information gathered over a period
of time, in this case 1949-1969, as a single population.
There is no attempt made to determine trends over time.

13. The actual method of data recording is as follows.
Three 80-space formats were employed. The first two
formats correspond to card #1 and card #2 each case,
respectively. The first format contains general social
background information, while the second format includes
the variables to be employed in the analysis of initial
recruitment. Together these cards constitute the basic
deck used for most of the analysis reported in the paper.
The third format resembles, in basic form, the second
format and is employed each time a person was re-elected.

Thus, if a person served 4 terms, the appropriate format
would be punched on three separate cards, one for each
re-election. These cards would be numbered three through
five. The number of cards per case, then, may range from
two to as many as seven if a person served in.all six
sessions. A more detailed listing of the individual
variables is available in the author's codebook.

14. Survey research covering the period 1949-1967
indicates a steady rise in public support for the political
institutions of the Federal Republic (see Institut fpr
Demoskopie, 1967: 14-20. 31-37). In a recent elite survey
two-thirds of respondents regarded the present system as
"stable" (see Wildenmann, 1968: 58).

15. See also the more recent works by Kaack (1969)
and Zeuner (1970);

16. This should not be taken as a criticism, given
Loewenberg's basic purpose and the obvious limits which
any investigator must set for himself. Loewenberg's
sensitive portrayal of the relationship between recruitment
patterns and the way in which the Bundestag fulfills its
representative function is clearly indicitive of the
direction in which future career pattern analysis could move.

17. It should, perhaps, be emphasized again that the
author is well aware that the present undertaking is not
directly "behavioral." Wahlke (1962: 174-175) is entirely
correct when he argues that "one variety of study often
erroneously thought to be distinctively 'behavioral'
is that which ascertains certain demographic characteristics
of the membership of particular representative bodies
.. .they tend to be purely descriptive." According to
Wahlke, the case for collecting quantities of such
descriptive information is best argued by W. O. Aydelotte
("A Statistical Analysis of the Parliament of 1841:
some problems of method," (1954) Bulletin of the Institute
of Historical Research, 27: 141) who hopes that "revealing
correlations" may be discovered. Wahlke is also correct,
however, when he argues that more than the possibility
of interesting correlations are needed:
Logically, two sorts of hypotheses
are needed: first, hypotheses concern-
ing the circumstances which lead to
the presence or absence of representa-
tives with certain characteristics;
second, and more important, hypotheses
concerning the consequences of varia-
tions in these characteristics for
the behavior of individual legisla-
tors and, thereby, for the working of
the representative body (1962: 175).


This study will certainly attempt to meet the first need,
but because of lack of appropriate data, will be able to
do little that is truly behavioral at this time.



The goal of this chapter is to define the term

"political recruitment," and to conceptualize the process

of political socialization and participation which

culminates in election to public office. As a part of

this discussion, much of the relevant literature will

be reviewed for substantive findings and heuristic concepts.1

It is not our purpose, however, to make explicit use of

most of the framework developed here in the later chapters.

The conceptualization is presented only to help the

reader place the key research variables, social back-

ground and political career experiences, in proper

perspective as regards the total process of political


A Definition

Political recruitment can be defined in a variety

of ways. One can speak of recruitment to politics per se.

initial recruitment, or recruitment to a particular

office structure. The most satisfactory definition for

our purposes is institutionally specific. Kim (1967: 1036),

for example, views recruitment as "the entire process

involved in a person's induction into a position."

Similarly, Almond and Coleman (1960: 32) refer to "the

special political role socialization which occurs in a

society 'on top of' the general political socialization"

and Prewitt and Eulau (1971: 293) speak of "the intramural

sorting and screening processes" which mean "advancing

from being politically active to becoming a candidate for

political office.". From this perspective, to study

recruitmen: is to examine how individuals get into specific

positions of leadership. It has the advantage of being

general in form, but unique to whichever institution or

office structure is being investigated.

These definitions stand in rather sharp contrast

to those that either equate recruitment with high

levels of political activity (Pye, 1962: 45-46) or

seek to limit use of the term to initial recruitment,

preferring the term "political promotion" for all

subsequent office activity (Jacob, 1962: 706; Fishel,

1969: 1214).2 High levels of political activity, what

Milbrath (1965: 18) calls "gladiatorial" activities,

include such things as being and active party member attend-

ing meetings, and contributing time to a political campaign,

as well as being a candidate or officeholder. It is,

thus, too vague and diffuse a category and is not,

in any case, limited to officeholders which are our sole

concern. It is possible, of course, to argue that

most recruitment studies have focused on political

promotion rather than initial election, but this is an

obvious truth and a not very useful distinction, since

it merely seeks to substitute one word for another,

without clarifying the underlying concept.

In this paper we follow the more generally accepted

practice of using the term "recruitment" to refer to

the entire process of selecting Members of the West

German Bundestag, while recognizing that this is, in

actuality, an example of political promotion. In

attempting to understand the nature of that process

it is helpful to think of it as part of the total

process of political socialization and participation.3

Political Participation

Political participation ranges from simply exposing

oneself to stimuli to holding public and party office,

with the most common form being the intermittent act

of voting. Milbrath (1965: 18), who has explored the

subject of participation in a fascinating book, suggests

that people can be grouped into four broad categories

along the continuum of political activity in terms of

the amount of time and energy devoted to politics.4

"Apathetics," those who do not vote and essentially avoid

politics, are the least active. Most people are

"spectators" who participate in the system by voting

and discussing politics. "Transitional" activities,

such as contacting public officials or attending political

meetings, clearly separate the third group from the

relatively passive role of "spectators." Finally,

those who are actively committed to politics, who

contribute time to candidates, or perhaps become candidates

and officeholders themselves, are engaged in what

Milbrath calls "gladiatorial" behavior. The rank-

ordering of political activities is assumed to be

generally valid from one country to the next, since it

is based on time and energy costs (Milbrath, 1965: 19).

This does not.mean, however, that the same proportion

of the population in different political systems will

engage in similar activities. Political culture,

for example, is an important variable affecting the

amount and kind of participation and will be discussed

in the next chapter.

The hierarchy of political involvement is relevant

to an understanding of political recruitment for at

least three reasons. First, involvement tends to be

cumulative, due to the fact that persons who engage

in more costly activities, such as working in a campaign,

are also likely to vote and discuss politics with others.

Secondly, research indicates a positive correlation

between the levels of participation and such socio-

economic variables as income, occupation, education,

age and sex. Thus, voters are more likely to be male,

older, more affluent, better educated, more knowledgeable

and more partisan than nonvoters (Campbell et al., 1964:

250-265; Lane, 1959; Lane, 1970; Milbrath 1965: 110-141).

Similarly, recruitment studies have shown that party

activists and public officeholders are predominantly

drawn from the middle and upper-middle socio-economic

brackets, are more knowledgeable and better educated

than the mass electorate (Matthews, 1954: 32; Matthews,

1961; Meynaud, 1961: 525; Sorauf, 1968: 92-96; Bowman

and Boynton, 1966; Prewitt and Eulau, 1971).

Obviously, many of the variables are interrelated.

For example, Lane (1970) attributed the differential

rates of participation between middle class (high)

and working class (low) to eleven factors, including

education, time and energy available for political activity,

economic security, self-esteem, child-rearing practices,

civic responsibility, and greater cross-pressures on

the working class. Similarly, Berelson and Steiner

(1964: 422-426) think the higher participation rates of

high SES persons is due to three factors: (1) they are

better educated, (2) they are more likely to perceive

that they have a stake in politics, (3) they are more

likely to interact with persons active in politics.

The hierarchy of political involvement is a useful

conceptualization for yet a third reason: it points

to a major turning point in the process of political

participation which can be called the "gladiatorial

threshold." Although the various forms of participation

are hierarchically arranged, the process of transition

is not smooth, but discontinuous:

Occasionally, a spectator jumps into
the political fray. But, by and large,
personality and environmental factors
encourage persons to stay in their
roles. There seems to be a kind of
threshold that must be crossed before
a person changes role; this is especially
characteristic of the transition from
spectator to gladiator. A person needs
a strong push from the environment
(e.g., earnest solicitation from a friend)
or needs to feel very strongly about
an issue or a candidate before he will
cross the threshold and become a politi-
cal combatant. Once the threshold is
crossed and the new team member becomes
integrated in his role, he usually
participates in a wide repertoire of
political acts (Milbrath, 1965: 20-21).

The change in level of activity is not unlike the changes

of state that occur when water is changed into ice or

steam. The idea of a threshold serves to identify the

initial stage of political recruitment and helps to

distinguish it from other forms of political participation.

Merely showing that there are levels of political

activity does not explain why some people get involved

in politics and others do not. But the fact that

activities can be arranged hierarchically and are quite

interdependent leads to the expectation that general

models of participation and recruitment could be developed.

Milbrath (1965: 28-38) has developed a perceptually

oriented model of behavior which relates stimuli,

personal factors, the political setting and social position

to participation.5 It is particularly helpful because

it explains participatory behavior in terms of the

complex, and sometimes circular, interaction of the indi-

vidual's predispositions, experiences, and perceived

environment. The model is a very general one, quite

consistent with Schlesinger's ambition theory which,

the reader may recall, is also implicitly based on

perceptual psychology. For Milbrath, a decision is

basically viewed as a function of physiological and

psychological needs, beliefs, and attitudes, which can

be called predispositions, and stimuli coming from the

environment. Stimuli, however, are modified by "the

selective effect of predispositions upon perceptions"

(Milbrath, 1965: 33). When the concept of selective

perception is combined with the notion of a predisposi-

tional threshold, one gains an understanding of why

some persons participate in politics in certain ways

and others do not. Thus, the individual who votes,

but does not campaign, might find that his predispositions

to political inactivity are reinforced by selective

perceptions that campaigning is part of dirty politics,

thatno one needs or wants his help, or that any such

effort would be largely ineffective anyway. It would

take, as indicated earlier, a particularly strong push

from the environment, in other words, a stimuli that

could not be ignored, or a combination of issues which

might arouse sufficient counter-predispositions, to get

the spectator to cross the gladiatorial threshold.

On the other hand, an ambitious politician, whose predis-

positions favor active involvement, might conclude,

on the basis of selective perception, that a real

opportunity for election existed where such was not the

case. In both examples, behavior feeds back to the

individual, persumably altering his attitudes, needs,

perceptions, and future participatory behavior.

Although a model of the general process of partici-

pation is somewhat helpful, the tendency to emphasize

the individual's perceptual-motivational set means that

the institutional framework within which leadership

selection takes place is largely ignored. Political

structures, such as parties, are defined as part of the

environment, relevant only to the degree that they are

perceived by individuals. While this may be an accurate

picture of the motivational component, it ignores the

active role of parties and other agents in recruiting

leaders. What is needed is a framework of analysis that

encompasses both the individual's psychological and

sociological backgrounds and the several agents of


Models of Political Recruitment

In recent years, there have been several suggestive

attempts to conceptualize the process of leadership

selection. In this regard, the writings of Seligman

(1961, 1964), Sorauf (1963: 81-89), Jacob (1962),

and Browning (1968) come readily to mind. None of these

is entirely satisfactory, but taken together they lead

to the conclusion that any comprehensive model must take

account of at least four sets of variables: (1) the

individual's psychological background, (2) his social

background and career experiences, and the role of

(3) party and (4) constituency in certification and selec-

tion.6 Before discussing the relevant research findings

in each of these areas, it may be helpful to look at

two somewhat different ways in which to visualize the

recruitment process.

No diagrammatic presentation could do complete

justice to the complexities of political recruitment,

but two partial schemes have proven helpful to this

writer. First of all, recruitment can be looked at

from the societal perspective as the successive narrowing

of the relevant population as it passes through a series

of funnels or filters (see Figure 1).7 As shown in Figure 1,

there are at least four selection structures which can

be identified in the modern state system: (1) the formal

U formal
L require- social political opportunity THE ELIGIBLE
A ments structure structure structure


Figure 1

requirements, including the formally enunciated require-

ments for office such as age and citizenship, (2) the

social structure, (3) the political structure, and

(4) the opportunity structure.8

The process of certification, however, is really

not a process at all, at least not as we have used it.

Essentially, all it does is illustrate the idea that

only a fraction of the total population meets the formal

and informal requirements for public office. This is

of course, a very important point. A recent study

stressed the fact that:

Even in the most democratic society,
the electorate does not choose from
among all its members. It chooses
from among a pool of eligibles
disproportionately drawn from the
higher social-status groups in

society; the availability of these
elites as political candidates very
much depends on the intramural
maneuverings within the active
stratum by which some are recruited
to and others eliminated from candidacy
(Prewitt ano Eulau, 1971: 293).

Schlesinger (1966: 12) was even more succinct when he

wrote that "It may be, as some have said, that today

only millionaires can become President; but only those

millionaires in strategic political posts can hope to turn

the trick. In the game of politics the political as

well as the social system determines the players." But

more dynamic perspective is still needed, one that is


Figure 2, largely self-explanatory, is an attempt

to visualize the sequential structure of political recruit-

ment in terms of the mutual interaction, over a period

of time, of the political environment, the potential

candidate, and relevant political elites.9 The political

environment includes, among other things, the electoral

constituency. The explicit inclusion of the constituency

as a factor in recruitment is frequently neglected, but

crucial to any model, such as this one, that has a concern

for behavior in office, and, thus, for representation.

Preceptually based, like Milbrath's more general model

of participation, it is also consistent with ambition

theory, although it is hardly limited to such an inter-

pretation. It makes clear that candidates can be either

"self-starters," or actively recruited by political



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leadership.10 In either case, acceptance of nomination

depends on the interaction between motivations and

perceptions of opportunity and risk. Cnce elected,

of course, the politician's office behavior has implications

for his subsequent re-election.

A model of this type is probably the most satisfactory

that can be produced at this time, but the skeletal

relationships described above need to be filled in with

substantive findings from relevant political research.

To do this, we will return to the four sets of variables

which were mentioned earlier: psychological background,

social background and career experiences, and the role

of party and constituency in candidate selection.

Factors in the Recruitment Process

Needs and Perceptions

Psychological factors have been largely neglected

in the empirical study of political recruitment. This

is unfortunate because they provide an important moti-

vational component by relating individual needs and

the perception of opportunities. What little research

exists usually emphasizes the role of political office

in fulfilling certain personality needs, such as the

need for Power, Affiliation or Achievement (McConaughy,

1950; Jacob and Browing, 1964; George, 1968).11 The

role of perceptions in molding goals and behavior has

only been indirectly approached in the literature on

political recruitment.12

The interaction of needs and the perception of

opportunities for need satisfaction best explain the

drive for public office. Early investigations of the

drive for power failed to include a perceptual component

and have been partially contradicted by later research.

Weber (1958: 78) and Lasswell (1948: 39, 53), for example,

hypothesized a drive for power as a significant character-

istic of political activists and this thesis has received

some support from a subsequent investigation of power

motivations of South Carolina state legislators, since

legislators had slightly higher dominance scores than

a control group (McConaughy, 1950). But a more recent

study of politicians holding a variety of positions in

two states led to the conclusion that neither power,

affiliative, nor achievement motivation was "peculiarly

characteristic of the total sample of politicians tested"

(Jacob and Browning, 1964: 81).

The apparent discrepancy in findings can be signifi-

cantly reduced by controlling for the ability of a given

political system to satisfy a given need. Thus, in the

two-state study the authors found that men in positions

with high power and achievement potential had higher

motive scores than the nonpolitical control group or

other politicians. Also, because opportunities for power

achievement in politics were lower in Louisiana parishes

than in the eastern city studied, highly motivated persons

were more typical of the latter sample. Significantly,

the authors rejected a role socialization explanation,

which would have suggested that exposure to power and

achievement opportunities had socialized certain office-

holders to high levels of power or achievement motivation,

on the grounds that candidates for such positions had

the same basic motivational characteristics as office-

holders. Their conclusion is succinctly stated in the

following logical hypothesis:

Motivated behavior--for example, the
choice of one activity ever another
less preferred--is the product of (1)
the individual's underlying motivation,
or need for a certain kind of satisfac-
tion, and (2) his expectations or
perception of motive satisfaction in
the alternative activities (Jacob and
Browning, 1964: 82).

This argument is quite consistent with ambition theory

since "ambition" is only a catch-all term used to refer

to a wide range of human wants and needs without making

the investigator specify the wants and needs.of any

particular individual. Individual motivation

mediated by perceptions of the environment propels some

persons toward political candidacy. But other variables,

particularly social background, help to explain why

some individuals rather than others perceive political

activity as a means of satisfying ambitions.

Social Background

Social background factors are operative at several

points in the process of political recruitment. First

of all, background variables such as class, family,

education, and occupation, predispose some persons to very

high levels of political activity in the same way that

they influence more common forms of participation like

voting. A recent study of family relationships in Congress

makes this quite clear (Clubok et al., 1969).13 The

authors, who discovered that a disproportionate number of

congressmen had relatives who had also served in Congress,

attributed this to the fact that they had "grown up in an

environment conducive to the internalization of political

values, awareness, understanding and motivation" (1036).

Secondly social and occupational background can tell

us a good deal about availability and skills. Two

examples should suffice to illustrate the point. It

has been found that British M. P.'s who eventually

attained cabinet office entered politics at an earlier-

than-average age (Buck, 1963). Their clear intention to

make politics a career was probably helped along by

limited family responsibilities and little, if any,

commitment to an alternative occupation. But one's

private occupation may be quite relevant to politics.

The legal profession, particularly in the United States,

is the example par excellence of a convergence of several

factors--occupational flexibility, "brokerage" skills,

and private advantage--which makes public officeholding

both possible and attractive.

Occupational flexibility, which makes it relatively

easy for professional persons, particularly lawyers, to

serve in legislative bodies need not detain us here.

The notion of occupational utility for politics, what

Jacob calls "brokerage" occupations, is perhaps more

significant, since it stands in partial contrast to a

social structure explanation of recruitment. According

to Jacob:

Elected officials will come principally
from brokerage occupations; as such
occupations exist at all levels of the
social hierarchy, elected officials may
come from lower as well as upper status
occupations (1962: 716).

The brokerage concept emphasizes the congruence of skills

in private occupation and politics, particularly those

skills central to the give-and-take of politics. But

two additional points are relevant here. First of all,

the brokerage concept can easily be stretched to include

Schlesinger's idea that complementarity of functions can

serve as a link between political offices (1966: 99).

Even more important, in the German system where admin-

istrative norms seem particularly important, other

skills may be more suitable (see, for example, Kirchheimer,

1966; Loewenberg, 1966: 107-108, 114).

Finally, in terms of occupational utility for politics,

Eulau (1962: 507) has written that "just those individuals

whose private pursuits qualify them for public office may

also derive advantage from political status for their

private occupations." There is considerable evidence to

support this conclusion. For example, Gold (1961) found

that lawyers usually enter state legislatures at an early

age and only stay for two or three terms, just long enough

to derive significant private advantage. Similarly, Barber

(1965: 23-66) speaks of the advertiserr" as one of four

types of Connecticut legislators, characterized by high

levels of activity, but a willingness to return for only

a few sessions.

Jacob (1962) has suggested yet a third way in which

social background is related to recruitment. An integral

part of his model of recruitment is the community esteem of

political office and he suggests that, just as water seeks

its own level, "brokers will initially seek offices whose

esteem corresponds most closely with their own standing in

the community" (716).14 Thus, a Boston Brahmin is unlikely

to run for clerk of the circuit court, but quite likely to

run for the U. S. House of Representatives of the Senate, as

the examples of Lodge, Kennedy and Saltonstall will testify.

A final way in which social background factors enter

the recruitment process is by being considered as relevant

criteria by party and constituency as they go about the job

of nominating and electing representatives. It is only

when we consider these agents of recruitment that predictive

propositions about leadership selection and various kinds

of behavior are possible.

Party and Constituency

It is difficult to separate the operation of party

and constituency in the process of political recruitment.

Certainly the parties, whose concern is for electing

candidates, select persons that will, at least in some

ways, appeal to the voters or the major interests tied

to the party (Loewenberg, 1966: 70-78). On the other hand,

parties also try to pick candidates that meet their own

needs (Sorauf, 1963: 81). This is particularly true

where the party is organizationally strong and/or can

count on victory at the polls (Mezey, 1970; Jacob, 1962:

716). Attempts to relate either party or constituency to

recruitment almost always use traditional social back-

ground data such as prior political experience as dependent

variables (Walker, 1960; Snowiss, 1966; Mezey, 1970).

Since a much greater volume of research has been done on

the role of the party in recruitment, it is to this

literature that we turn first.

Using party competitiveness, variously measured, as

the major independent variable, numerous investigators

have found consistent relationships with three dependent

variables: age, socio-economic status, and prior political

experience. Given the obvious security and lower turn-

over rate of a predominant party, it is not surprising

that parties in safe districts generally select older

nominees than those in more competitive areas, or that

the youngest candidates are put forward by parties in

a hopeless minority position (see Walker, 1960: 24-26;

Snowiss, 1966). Youth is more likely to have the energy

to wage an up-hill, or even a hopeless campaign, and also

is more likely to derive private benefits from political

exposure, regardless of electoral outcome.

Age, quite obviously, is somewhat correlated with

the amount of political experience a person could have.

Several studies would suggest that in dominant parties

youth has to serve a long apprenticeship. Mezey (1970: 566)

has found that successful majority party candidates

are more likely to have held previous political office

than successful minority party candidates. Similarly,

Jacob (1962: 716) argues that where party organizations

control nominations only those "brokers" who have contact

with the machine will enter politics. But in the German

case there was a serious lack of qualified party members

to run for public office in the immediate post-war period.

Until the parties, particularly the CDU, grew organization-

ally stronger even Bundestag seats were assigned to

interest group representatives without a history of party

activity (Heidenheimer, 1966: 71). Prior political

experience, then, is something the parties would like

candidates to have, provided that they are in a position

to choose.

Findings about social status are less consistent.

There seems to be a tendency for long-predominant parties

to have leadership that is heavily biased toward higher

socio-economic groups (Patterson, 1963). This may reflect

a bandwagon tendency on the part of upper-class elements,

as well as the fact that older candidates, who are more

numerous in dominant parties, have had a greater opportunity

to advance socially and economically in their private

lives. Partially counteracting this, however, is a tendency

for parties to choose higher status candidates in competi-

tive districts (Kornberg and Winsborough, 1968: 1242).

Collectively, then, candidates in competitive districts

are likely to be younger, upwardly mobile individuals,

who may or may not be party regulars. The picture for

their counterparts in noncompetetive districts is less

structured: majority party nominees tend to be older

party regulars; minority party candidates may be either

young and inexperienced, or older, respected members of

the community who can be talked into a token candidacy

(see Snowiss, 1966).

Research on the role of the constituency in the

process of political recruitment is exceedingly fragmentary.

The underlying hypothesis for such research has been

well stated by Rosenzweig (1957: 163) who argued that

"it is likely that the characteristics of candidates

for public office are determined in part by the character

of the constituency in which they are running." There would

also seem to be a natural tendency to stress the representa-

tional function at this point, by drawing inferences from

a comparison of the social backgrounds of politicians

and their constituencies on the assumption that "the

dominant values of the community result from its social

characteristics, and these values are in turn imposed on

all who would rise to positions of community leadership'

(Sorauf, 1963: 89).

There is some evidence to support the view that

officeholders do reflect their electorates in certain

key dimensions. Sorauf, for example, found that candidates

for public office in Pennsylvania resembled their constit-

uency in terms of race, religion, and ethnic background

(1963: 89). And Prewitt and Eulau (1971: 304) have found

that the average status of city council members is posi-

tively related to the socio-economic level of the

community, as measured by the median market value of

homes. Similarly, other investigators have found that

social groups supporting a particular party are heavily

represented among that party's officials (Epstein, 1958:

89) or those seeking its nominations (Loewenberg, 1966:

67-68, 75-77; Varain, 1964).

Constituency is also relevant to recruitment in ways

not so easily related to a vague definition of representa-

tion. Kornberg and Winsborough (1968: 1243), for example,

found that relative urbanization and industrialization

affected recruitment patterns by being positively related

to the mean status of candidates. And Wences (1969: 181)


suggested that the higher the level of electoral partici-

pation, "the lower the proportion of political leaders

recruited from business and legal occupations, but the

higher the relative number recruited from other professions

and from Labor and Party bureaucracies." These findings

are at least partially explicable in terms of the concen-

tration of wealth and status in areas of high population

and the mobilization of the lower classes. Their

significance, however, is far from evident and more

research is needed to establish them as valid generali-


The importance of constituencies in political

recruitment may vary with the structure of the electoral

system, the organizational strength of political parties,

and the tendency for constituents to vote for parties

rather than candidates. Conditions in the United

States would seem to maximize the potential impact

of constituents, while those in Britain and Germany

would reduce it. Differences, however, may not be as

great as one might think. Austin Ranney (1968) finds

that considerable localism does exist in British candidate

selection, despite the fact that formal power of the

national political party organizations are impressive.

For Germany it has been pointed out that at least within

the SPD "positions of leadership are widely held to

require more and more the ability to deal with persons

outside the party," implying an increasing role for elec-

toral constituencies (Chalmers, 1964: 160; see also

Loewenberg, 1966: 83).

The role of constituents in political recruitment

certainly deserves more study. By correlating demographic

and electoral data for each Bundestag district with

legislative career patterns we should be able to say

something about the impact of constituencies on leadership

selection. Previous work by this author (1969) would

lead to the hypothesis that constituency candidates

would have significantly different career patterns than

list candidates, the latter probably reflecting interest

group affiliation and state and national party experience.

Similarly, there may be differences between one-party

dominant districts and competitive or semicompetitive

areas. Each of these ideas will be explored in later


Recruitment and Representation: Reflections on Outputs

Having looked at some of the ways in which constituency

factors may affect political recruitment, it may be worth-

while to conclude this chapter on a reflective note.

One of the most difficult tasks for this writer has

been to conceptualize political recruitment in a compre-

hensive, yet unambiguous manner. Most of the literature

on recruitment is conceptually inadequate, occasionally

irrelevant, and subject to searching criticism. Having

grappled with this thorny problem for some time, several

thoughts occur which should help to improve our under-

standing of the recruitment process, its possibilities

. . and its limitations.

Not all the research that has been conducted is

irrelevant, or unimportant, despite the critics--far

from it. The literature, taken as a whole, as we have

tried to do in this chapter, provides a reasonably

adequate understanding of the recruitment process. The

difficulty is that only infrequently have scholars tried

to conceptualize the total process. Instead, they have

emphasized small, isolated segments: psychological

factors, social background, or the role of political

parties. Additionally, research has been divided very

unevenly between even these gross categories, with most

works devoted to easily ascertainable social background

characteristics--often without any real thought as to

how these features relate to political recruitment.

Two major problems are apparent upon examination.

First of all, studies of who is recruited need to be

distinguished from investigations of how persons are

selected to fill leadership positions. In reality such

a separation is somewhat artificial, but it helps to

emphasize that those analyses of who is recruited are

often unrelated to theory, being mere compendia of discrete

facts. Facts about who is recruited, usually social

background.material, are important because they stand

for things that predispose people to high levels of

political activity--interest, ability, knowledge, feelings

of efficacy and similar factors. By themselves, how-

ever, they are static and descriptive; hardly an adequate

approach to the dynamic process of getting persons

elected to public office. For our purposes, recruitment

is the study of how people get into positions of leader-

ship. This is done by looking at the sequence of

political officeholding.

A second problem arises because our interest in

recruitment is often prompted by our concern for other

kinds of political behavior; for a variety of outputs

which can, supposedly, be related to who is recruited and

how. Snowiss (1966: 627) stated the thesis simply when he

wrote: "The study of recruitment and the study of

representation are complementary." Complementary they

may be, but identical they are not. Scholars have a

normal desire to study significant objects, but students

of political recruitment sometimes make exaggerated claims

for their subject out of a failure to understand that

"factors operative in political recruitment may not

operate identically in such closely related subject

areas as roll call voting and representation.

When recruitment is taken as an independent variable,

it is then related to some kind of dependent political

output--roll call voting (Atkins and Baer, 1970; Schulz,

1969), participation (Barber, 1965; Loewenberg, 1966;

Hanna, 1965-66), system stability (Legg, 1969a; 1969b;

Watson, 1969), or representational roles and attitudes

(Bell and Price, 1969; Fiellin, 1967; Kochanek, 1968).

But we should not expect to find, nor do we find,

simple relationships between background factors and,

for example, roll call votes, when we cannot even

demonstrate a consistent connection between backgrounds

and attitudes, variables which should be more closely

connected (Edinger and Searing, 1967; Searing, 1969).

Social and psychological backgrounds obviously have some

bearing on political outputs, but they are mediated by

party and constituency and it may .e that apparently

simple relationships are mere artifacts of other variables.

Matthews (1954: 41), for example, indicates this may be

the case for Rice's finding that farmers tended to vote

together regardless of party. He suggests this may be an

artifact of similar constituencies (Matthews, 1954: 41).

The tendency to consider recruitment and representation

as one process is understandable in light of the fact

that many of the same variables are operative: personality,

social backgrounds, party and constituency. But a little

thought should make it clear that they operate in different

ways and in different combinations in what are essentially

two separate processes. For example, the drive for power,

need for achievement and need for affiliation affect

recruitment, but would not seem equally relevant to

many kinds of political output. Certainly these are

not attitudinal variables that should have any recogni-

zable direct impact on roll call voting. Similarly,

higher status individuals are more likely to be recruited

to political activity, but this does not mean that they

represent class interests or vote in a predictable manner.

As Schlesinger (1966: 13) said, "the social or occupational

composition of Congress is no guide to its voting

behavior."l5 Most research emphasizes that party is

the best explanatory variable for voting behavior and

that residual variation can be explained by constituency

factors, such as district "safeness" or typicalityy"

(MacRae, 1952; Froman, 1963: 110-121; Sorauf, 1963:


Recruitment patterns can be related to certain kinds

of behavior, but we should expect the more directly

political experiences to have a greater impact. Thus,

James Barber (1965: 237-240) has found that certain

kinds of constituencies are likely to send individuals

with personality needs that have implications for their

level of political activity. For Germany, Loewenberg

(1966: 107-121) has found that occupation is significantly

related to performance in Darliamentary debate. Finally,

Schlesinger (1966: 5) has suggested that career patterns,

which tell us what goals individuals in certain positions

may reasonably pursue, can be related to representative

behavior through a very direct concern for getting one's

self elected. Because the perspective is on careers,

however, he quickly points out that the relevant constituencies

may be different from the formal electoral constituency

of the moment (1966: 5).

In the Bundestag it is not expected that recruitment

patterns will be an important factor in explaining voting

behavior, which is largely determined by party lines,

although they might help explain vote deviancy (see

Reuckert and Crane, 1962).16 Nor is it assumed that

recruitment patterns will be directly related to attitudes.

But other, equally important, if less easily ascertainable

relationships may exist, although they will not be con-

sidered as part of this study. As examples, one could

cite the absolute level of legislative activity, legis-

lative effectiveness,. and representational role orien-

tations. These should be fruitful areas for future



1. Many of the examples are taken from the American
context since a large proportion of the work has been
done in this country. It is assumed that basic relation-
ships are generally valid from one country to the next,
although, of course, little reliance should be placed
on precise figures. This is not an uncommon assumption.
See,for example, Milbrath (1965: 19) and Prewitt and
Eulau (1971: 294).

2. 11 must be emphasized that "initial recruitment"
as used by these scholars is quite different from our
decision to look at "initial Bundestag recruitment"
patterns. As they have used it, the term would refer to
the first political candidacy, or office, in an individual's
background, which would normally be at the local or
state-wide level.

3. Prewitt and Eulau (1971: 293) draw a distinction
between "political recruitment' and "leadership selection,"
defining the former as a subset of the latter: "leader-
ship selection refers to tht processes that determine
which few men from any generation will come to hold
political office, and thus includes political sociali-
zation patterns, socio-economic bias, the formation of
the politically active stratum, and the political opportun-
ity structure." In this paper we have used the two terms
interchangeably. What they refer to as "leadership
selection" more closely resembles those processes of
political socialization and participation which will be
discussed in the next section of this chapter.

4. This section is heavily based on Milbrath (1965).
He has managed to draw together in concise, readable form
most of the literature on political participation and
to systematize the findings. This writer was interested
to note that his own attempt to organize the literature on
political recruitment led to an emphasis on a similar set
of factors.

5. See particularly Milbrath's (1965: 28) diagram-
matic representation of the model.

6. The terms "certification" and "selection" are
Seligman's (1961). Certification includes basically those
factors of social screening and political channeling
that Prewitt and Eulau (1971: 293) refer to as "leader-
ship selection." Selection resembles their definition
of "political recruitment."

7. For a somewhat similar scheme see Prewitt's
(1970: 8) "Chinese box puzzle" which is a further attempt
to describe "The successive narrowing of the many who
are governed to the few who govern."

8. A distinction is not always made between the
political structure and the opportunity structure. As used
here, the political structure refers to the structure of
the political parties, the electoral system and similar
factors, while the opportunity structure is concerned
with the number of opportunities, the amount of inter-
and intra-party competition and the extent of multiple-

9. The author is happy to acknowledge the influence
of Seligman (1967: 295), Milbrath (1965: 2) and Browning
(1968: 304) on his visual conceptualization of the recruit-
ment process.

10. Seligman (1961: 86) identifies four patterns of
candidate recruitment: (1) conscription, (2) self-
recruitment, (3) co-optation and (4) agency.

11. A good summary of the personality and politics
literature can be found in Greenstein (1968). The entire
issue of Journal of Social Issues in which Greenstein's
article appears is devoted to the topic. See also foot-
note references in Milbrath (1965: Ch. 3).

12. An exception is Jacob and Browning (1964). Also
relevant are George (1968) and Kingdon (1968).

13. See also Bowman and Boynton (1966), Kornberg and
Thomas (1965) and Wahlke et al. (1962: Ch. 4).

14. A somewhat similar thesis, although applied from
a systemic rather than individual perspective, has been
used by Prewitt and Eulau (1971: 302) who argue that city
council members in the Bay Area are drawn exclusively
from persons above the sixtieth percentile in the social-
status hierarchy of their community, but that the absolute
value of that percentile shifts from one community to

15. For a conflicting interpretation see Donald
Matthews (1954: 40).


16. A recent article has explored precisely this
point by relating the voting cohesion of the British
Conservative party to three constraints against deviancy:
potential career vulnerability, career enhancement
aspirations, and feelings of group or party identity. The
second constraint, career enhancement aspirations, appears
to be very similar to Schlesinger's idea of progressive
ambitions. It is operationalized in terms of acquisition
of higher office, the length of Commons membership,
and age, all of which are important career variables.
See Schwarz and Lambert (1971).



The Federal Republic is a relatively new entity built

upon the ruins of the Third Reich. Its constitution, the

Basic Law, was only adopted May 23, 1949 and it was not

until May 5, 1955 that the last vintages of military occu-

pation, with the continuing exception of Berlin, were

removed.1 It would be a mistake, however, to view the

German political system as essentially a new creation, for

it exhibits striking continuities with the past. Kirch-

heimer (1950) and Edinger (1961) have found significant

similarities in elite recruitment since the Weimar period.

Even more recently, the sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf (1969:

285-296) has criticized the continued predominance of

"private virtues" even "public virtues." And the philoso-

pher Karl Jaspers (1967: 22-28), in a thoughtful polemic

on the possibly totalitarian direction of German politics,

has stressed that the old faults remain: political passiv-

ity and a lack of commitment to individual freedom and

democracy. Perhaps more than most nations, Germany is

clearly the product of its unique historical experiences,

particularly the devastating defeat in two World Wars, the

abortive Weimar experiment in democracy and the excesses of

the Hitlerian era.

The purpose of this chapter is to outline key aspects

of political life in Germany as a foundation for under-

standing parliamentary recruitment. Beginning with a

brief sketch of the development and historical role of

parliaments in Germany, it moves on to consider how the

formative experiences mentioned above have helped to

shape the electoral system, the structure of government and

the political parties. This is followed by a discussion

of certain aspect of contemporary political culture that

are particularly relevant to recruitment. Finally, some

consideration is given to the present role of the

Bundestag which,like other parliamentary bodies, is relatively

less powerful than the executive branch of government.

The Historical Role of Parliament

The Bundestag has a long, but not particularly

distinguished ancestry. The parliamentary tradition can

be traced back to the Imperial Diet or Reichstag of the

Holy Roman Empire which developed during the tenth to

twelfth centuries (Ullmann and King-Hall, 195"4: 19-33)

and to the Estates of the various principalities, such as

Wurttemberg, which began to form throughout Germany during

the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (Carsten, 1963;

Ullmann and King-Hall, 1954: 33-36).2

The Imperial Diet, which lasted until the time of

Napoleon, was not a true parliamentary body, but rather

"an aristocracy of soverign princes" (Ullmann and King-

Hall, 1954: 27). The relations of Emperor and princes

depended "on the possessions of the family, not on their

rank and status" (Ullmann and King-Hall, 1954: 27).

Although never exercising great influence as an organ-

ization, by the eighteenth century it had deteriorated

still further into a conference of envoys and charges

d'affaires, devoting much time to such questions as the

proper date for celebrating Easter (Ullmann and King-Hall,

1954: 32).

This is in some contrast to the diets of the various

German principalities which were clearly embryonic

legislative institutions. While based on Estates, on

occasion the clergy or nobility were excluded and,some-

what less frequently, the peasants allowed to participate

(Carsten, 1963: 423-424). At times these diets exercised

great influence because of their pivotal role in succession

conflicts and their legal right to grant taxes. "In the

sixteenth century the powers of many German Estates, in the

fields of finance, foreign policy, and military affairs,

were considerably greater than those of the English

Parliament" (Carsten, 1963: 442). By the seventeenth

and eighteenth centuries, however, the issues which led

to the rise of the Estates had declined in importance

with the spread of primogeniture, standing armies, and

long-term taxation privileges granted to the princes.

With these changes came a marked decline in the importance

of the Estates in Hesse, Saxony, Bavaria and the duchies on

the Rhine. Only in Wg'rttemberg were the Estates able to

maintain their position, and this largely because of

the timely death of several dukes (Carsten, 1963: 147).

The impact of these feudal institutions on later

developments is quite diffuse. The provincial diets,

according to Loewenberg (1966: 5),.served as training

grounds for the first generation of German parliamentarians,

the members of the Frankfurt Assembly. Carsten (1963:

444) credits them with preserving "the spirit of consti-

tutional government and liberty in the age of absolute

monarchy." Their relevance to post-war Germany, however,

seems limited to the class-based role orientation found

in public attitudes toward the Eundestag, notably in the

concept of the member as interest representative

(Loewenberg, 1966: 44-46).

In the aftermath of the French Revolution, more

modern constitutions were granted in many German states,

including Saxe Weimar, Brunswick and Hanover (Ullmann and

King-Hall, 1954: 41; Pinson, 1966: 61). Although suffrage

was limited and their powers circumscribed, these bodies

helped to foster the growth of the "national and liberal

spirit" which came to the fore in the revolutionary

atmosphere of 1848 (Ullmann and King-Hall, 1954: 42;

Pinson, 1966: 81). The German Revolution of 1848 and

the Frankfurt Parliament which resulted from it are turning

points in German History. "It remained the starting

point for all subsequent movements to democratize Germany

and it was accepted as the prototype of the Weimar Republic

by the republican leaders of 1918 to 1933" (Pinson, 1966:

81). The failure of the Frankfurt Parliament was also

to foreshadow the failure of the Weimar Republic.

Begun amidst tremendous enthusiasm, the Frankfurt

Assembly perished a year later "like a prostitute in a

tavern" (Ullman and King-Hall, 1954: 57). Sometimes

characterized as a Professorenparlament for its inability

to climb down from the ivory tower; of academia to deal

with the real political issue of German unification, Eyck

(1968: 95-96) shows clearly that it was, above all, "a

lawyers' parliament." Table 1 lists the occupational

composition of the body and clearly shows its upper-middle

class bias. Almost all were members of the professions,

although about 20 per cent rose to these ranks from

comparatively humble origins (Eyck, 1968: 97). There was

not a single member from a working-class background

(Ullmann and King-Hall, 1954: 49).

The Frankfurt Parliament's failure to unify Germany

ended with a counter-revolutionary victory that had serious

implications for the future of democratic institutions.

Despite the lack of success, however, the Assembly marks

the beginning of Germany's genuine parliamentary develop-

ment--developments which can be traced to the modern

Bundestag. Loewenberg (1966: 5) points out, for example,



Percentage of Members
Occupation N=799

Civil Servants 36.5
(includes judiciary &
Lawyers 16.3
University or School Teachers 15.4
Businessmen 9.4
Landowners 8.5
Clergy 5.6
Writers, Journalists 4.5
Medical Practitioners 3.1
Not Yet in Profession 0.2
Not Known 0.5

aAdapted from Eyck, F. (1968). The Frankfurt
Parliament, 1848-1849. London: Macmillan, p. 95.

that it was in the Frankfurt Assembly that embryonic parties

first developed in caucuses among like-minded members; that

fundamentals of parliamentary procedure were hammered out;

and that the first draft of constitutional provisions

for a national parliament based on universal suffrage was

written. Eyck (1968: 395) has correctly concluded that

"the tragedy of the moderate liberals in 1848 was that

they had responsibility without sufficient power"; it could

hardly have been otherwise in a situation where two vital

issues, national unification and the creation of national

representative institutions, had to be solved simultaneously.3

But the real tragedy was Germany's because unification

eventually took place through the auspices of the vigorous

foreign policy of the "Iron Chancellor," Otto von Bismarck,

rather than by orderly, constitutional processes.

After 1871 the Reichstag was placed at the center of

the national stage, but effectively deprived of power in

what Loewenberg (1966: 10) calls the "artfully constructed

chaos which characterized the constitutional system of

the German Empire." The concept of parliamentary respon-

sibility was not established and the Reichstag, torn by

constant bickering and procedural disputes, failed to

distinguish itself. The following description of the

Reichstag in the Bismarchkean era illustrates its role

at that time:

It is not surprising that a Reichstag
of so little weight and with such
limited rights could not win much
prestige, and it was soon nicknamed
"Quasselbude," which may be politely
translated as "chatterbox." Govern-
ment circles derided it at will. In
later years a reactionary landowner
of the Prussian Diet remarked that
the Emperor should be able to disperse
it with the help of a lieutenant and
ten privates. William II called its
members "a bunch of fools" and boasted
after twenty years'rule that he had
never even read the Constitution
(Ullmann and King-Hall, 1954: 72).

Even those few occasions when the Reichstag could reasonably

have asserted itself, as in the Daily Telegraph Affair

and the voting of war credits in 1914, came to naught.

It was only as the First World War was drawing to a close

that a semblance of responsibility was established through

the government's submission of reports on the state of

hostilities to an interparty committee and the elevation

of some members of this committee to ministerial positions

(Loewenberg, 1966: 18).

It is unfortunate that the most democratic system

of government Germany had ever known came into being as

the result of the collapse of the old order in the wake of

military defeat. Throughout its brief life the Weimar

Republic and its major supporters, the center and moderate

left parties, labored under the Dolchstoss myth.4 The

full story of the collapse of the Weimar Republic cannot

be told here, but certainly relevant to the eventual Nazi

take-over were: (1) Allied policy after 1918, (2) economic

conditions in the Reich after 1928, and (3) certain political

deficiencies (see, for example, Black and Helmreich, 1959:

445-446). It is the political deficiencies that are

relevant to the present discussion. Briefly speaking,

the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic was to be the major

legislative organ, exercising control over the government

through parliamentary responsibility. The Reichstag was

directly elected by the people from party lists on a

strictly proportional basis. The result of the electoral

system was a very accurate reflection of the political

fragmentation in the society at large. Consequently, the

number of narrow, ideological parties was large, minimizing

the prospects for political compromise. While it would be

an overstatement to say that the system of proportional

representation caused political fragmentation, it certainly

did nothing to improve the situation. It was extremely

difficult under the circumstances for the Reichstag to

create governments or to carry out its legislative functions.

Loewenberg (1966: 22) calls this syndrome "parliamentary

immobilisme," clearly reflected in the fact that only

eight of the twenty cabinets formed during the Republic

enjoyed majority support. Another important feature of

the Weimar system was the independent election of the

President who enjoyed important emergency powers, notably

the possibility of governing through presidential decrees

under Article 48 of the Constitution. This power was used

extensively after 1930.

Black and Helmreich (1959: 447) point out that it

would be incorrect to overemphasize the importance of

political factors, such as the system of proportional

representation and the emergency powers granted to the

President, in the collapse of the Republic (1959: 447).

But the role of these factors in the deliberations of the

Parlamentarischerat of 1948-49 as it went about the task

of rebuilding the political order can hardly be overestimated.

The Founding of the Federal Republic

Unlike the First World War, Germany was totally

defeated, psychologically and militarily in 1945. Perhaps

most significantly, the administrative apparatus had

collapsed at all levels making possible, and necessary,

a vast restructuring of political life. Reconstruction

proceeded at varying paces and in somewhat different

directions in the three Western zones, due to the conflict-

ing priorities of the Allies (Golay, 1958: 5-17; Merkl, 1963:

7-15). The rift between East and West, which widened after

the Potsdam Conference, initially intensified the tendency

for each power to proceed separately, but eventually led

to the realization that unification of the Western zones was

essential for the economic recovery of Europe and as

a bulwark against Soviet expansion. By September 1946 a

number of agreements between American and British authorities

led to the establishment of a Bizonal Economic Council with

authority over the Laender. It was in this atmosphere that

a conference of the three Western powers and the Benelux

countries meeting in London from February to June, 1948

agreed to establish a West German state. A Parliamentary

Council, the Parlamentarischerat, composed of sixty-five

delegates selected by the Landtage under guidelines

established by the Ministers-President was charged with

drafting a provisional constitution for the new republic.

Meeting from September 1, 1948 until May 8, 1949 the Basic

Law with its numerous compromises was hammered out in the

Parliamentary Council and ratified by the several Landtage

May 16-22, 1949. It was officially proclaimed May 23, 1949.

Such a sketchy introduction, of course, does not do

justice to the complexity of issues involved. It does

suggest the central role of German politicians, however,

in creating the Federal Republic, despite Allied

participation in the deliberations at several important


S. it would be very much amiss to
think that the frail young sprout of
postwar German democracy grew from an
Allied seed . . Owing to these
conditions, democracy and federalism
were a natural German choice long
before the Western Allies chose to
include them in the London Agreements
among the specifications for a West
German constitution (Merkl, 1963: 21).

The validity of this thesis can best be seen by examining

critical aspects of the structure of government, the

electoral system, and the political parties today.

The Structure of Government

Government in Germany is organized at three basic

levels, local, Land and national, with legislative and

executive organs at each. Local government structure

varies considerably from one Land to another, depending upon

tradition and the differing conceptions of the proper form

for local government held by the three Western Allies.

The British, for example, sought to abolish the power of

the BUrqermeister, or mayor, and established a council-

manager system in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony,

where administrative powers are centered in a non-political

Gemeindedirektor. The Americans largely accepted the

prevalent council-mayor system in their zone; hence, the

mayor remains the chief administrative official in Bavaria

and Baden-WUirttemberg. In all, Heidenheimer identifies

five types of local government, the most important not

previously mentioned being the collegial systems used

by the city-states of Hamburg, Bremen and West Berlin

(Heidenheimer, 1966: 178-180; see also Hiscocks, 1957:

171-185; Legislative. E

Between the Gemeinden and the Laender stand the Land-

kreise, or counties. The larger cities are usually admin-

istered separately from the rural and small town areas

as stadtkreise or Kreise-frei Sth'dte, combining local

and county functions. In the less populous areas, however,

the Kreis and its leading organs, the Kreistag (county council)

and Landrat (county director) form a distinct intermediate

governmental unit. The structure of county government varies

from region to region in roughly the same manner as local


Local and county governments exercise very limited

legislative responsibility bu-, are charged with a major

share of administrative duties. They have proven to be an

extremely important training ground for Land and national

politicians, as we shall see in subsequent chapters.

The political structure of the Laender resembles in

basic form that of the federal government. All except

Bavaria have a unicameral parliament elected by some

variety of proportional representation. In Bavaria there

is a second chamber, the Senat, where interests are

directly represented as in the old Estate-based diets.

The government of each Land is composed of a Minister-

President and a cabinet, usually formed through a coalition

of several parties. Although the policy-making powers of

the Laender are more limited than under the Empire or in

the Weimar Republic, they continue to play an important

role in national politics for at least three reasons.

First, they are an important stepping-stone to national

political office. Second, because the composition of Laender

governments determines the make up of the Bundesrat (the

second chamber of the federal government), coalition

changes can have important implications for national

legislation. Finally, the fact that landtag elections are

staggered throughout the years between Bundestag elections

has tended to make them into continuing referendums on the

performance of the federal government.

It is in the relations between the levels of govern-

ment, particularly in the relations between the central

institutions and the Laender, that one can most clearly

see the indigenous character of the present political

system. According to Article 20 of the Basic Law, the

Federal Republic of Germany is a "democratic and social

federal state" composed of eleven Laender (see Table 2).

Federalism in Germany is one example of the happy coin-

cidence of the interests of the occupation powers in avoid-

ing another unitary and potentially totalitarian state,

the feeling that some of the problems of the Weimar Republic

were due to "the progressive abandoning of the old German

tradition of federalism" (Merkl, 1963: 23), and the vested

interest of Laender governments and parties in preserving

their political position (Golay, 1958: 41-44; Merkl, 1963:




Number of
Population Bundesrat
Land (1969)a seats

Baden-W rttemberg 8,822,000 5
Bavaria 10,490,000 5
Bremen 755,000 3
Hamburg 1,819,000 3
Hesse 5,379,000 4
Lower Saxony 7,067,000 5
North Rhine-Westphalia 17,039,000 5
Rhineland-Palatinate 3,659,000 4
Saarland 1,129,000 3
Schleswig-Holstein 2,547,000 4
West Berlin 2,135,000 4

aBased on the 1969 micro-census as reported in Hand-
book of Statistics (1970). Wiesbaden: Federal
Statistical Office, p. 16.

German federalism, however, is considerably different

from the American variety. Merkl (1963) refers to it

as "executive-legislative federalism," while Golay (1958:

44) chooses to call it "functional federalism," since

it tends to preserve the strong role of central institutions

in decision-making while devolving most administrative

functions upon the Laender and local governments. K. C.

Wheare (1953: 136-146), one of the leading students of

federalism, concludes, in contrast, that it is not really

a federal system at all, but an example of a decentralized

unitary state, since the Laender lack a significant

measure of independence (1953: 136-146).5 However one

resolves the semantic issue, it is clear that German

federalism'is an outgrowth of traditional regional senti-

ments, the reaction against the increased centralization

of the preceding century which had twice ended in defeat,

and the vested interests of previously established Land-

level governments and party organizations.6

The federal order of the Basic Law, as
it finally took form, is essentially a
German construction. It follows the
German tradition, with adaptations to
take account of contemporary conditions
and to accommodate varying interests
and political views in Western Germany
today (Golay, 1958: 108).

The Electoral System

The electoral law adopted by the Parliamentary Council

is a modified version of proportional representation which,

in the view of its supporters, was consistent with German

political traditions (Golay, 1958: 139). The basic

features of the law as it presently operates are as follows:7

Every voter casts two separate ballots, one for a constit-

uency candidate, the other for a party list drawn up by

the Land parties. Plurality decides the 248 constituency

contests and an equal number of list seats are filled

from the Land lists by a complex mathematical formula

devised by the nineteenth century Belgian mathematician

d'Hondt. The system is basically proportional because

the total number of seats each party is entitled to is

determined by its share of the second ballot. The number

of direct mandates is subtracted from this total and the

remaining seats distributed between the separate Land

lists on the basis of their contribution to the party's

total vote. There are only two exceptions to the proportion-

ality of the system. The first is a requirement that a

party must receive at least 5 per cent of the vote

in at least one Land, or win three constituency seats in

order to benefit from the proportional distribution of

Bundestag seats. This has tended to eliminate minor parties

who cannot hope to win direct seats or clear the 5 per

cent hurdle (see Table 3). The second exception is that

a party can gain more seats than it is entitled to on the

basis of proportionality, but only by winning a greater

number of direct mandates than its proportional share of

seats in a Land. These extra mandates are added to the

total number of Bundestag seats allotted to the Land and

the distribution recalculated by the d'Hondt system, par-

tially explaining the fluctuation in total seats (see

Table 3).8 This second exception is less important than

the first, there being only thirteen of these "super-

proportional" mandates through 1965, all but two being

won by the CDU (Loewenberg, 1966: 16, note 39).

One can reasonably ask why Germany reverted to

proportional representation, a widely criticized feature

of the Weimar system because it perpetuated a large number

of minority parties. Golay (1958: 138) makes clear that



Party 1949 1953 1957 1961 1965 1969

Christian Democratic/ 141 250 278 251 251 250
Christian Social Union
Social Democratic Party 136 162 181 203 217 237
Free Democratic Party 53 53 43 67 50 31
German Party 17 15 17
Bavarian Party 17
Communist Party 15
Economic Reconstruction 12
Center Party 10
Refugee Party 27
South Schleswig Voters' Assn. 1
German Rightist Party 5
Others 3 2

Total 410 509 519 521 518 518

aIncludes 8 nonvoting Representatives from Berlin in
1949 and 22 at each successive election.

the answer lies in the vested interests of some political

parties. Basically speaking, the minor parties, the Free

Democrats and the Social Democrats favored a system of

proportional representation since it would maximize their

representation. The CDU/CSU, on the other hand, strongly

favored a straight single-member plurality system which

would clearly have operated to their advantage, given their

overall strength and relatively even distribution through-

out the Laender.

The compromise which resulted from the political process

in the Parliamentary Council strongly favored the weaker

parties. The CDU/CSU had to accept a fifty-fifty distri-

bution of seats between single-member districts and party

lists and there was no provision hindering the smaller

groups. This compromise, however, was modified by the

Ministers-President at the behest of the military governors.

Instead of a fifty-fifty system, the proportion was to be

sixty-forty.9 More important, however, was the Allied

insistence on a 5 per cent "hurdle" to be leaped before

any party could be represented in the Bundestag.10 Clearly

an attempt to limit the fractional-zation of a multi-party

system, it is the most direct example of foreign interven-

tion in the domestic political process.

In fact, the law as it finally took
effect was essentially a military
government enactment, fcr it was
promulgated by the ministers-president,
over widespread party opposition, at
the direct order of the military
governors, relying upon their "supreme
authority" (Golay, 1958: 139).

Although the parties were critical of Allied inter-

vention at the time, they have not sought to modify the

most important change introduced by the military governors,
the 5 per cent clause, except to make it still' more

difficult for minor parties to gain national representation.

There have been numerous attempts to revise the electoral

system, notably by converting to a single-member district

system, but these efforts have been unsuccessful. The

latest series of attempts foundered on the SPD's belief

that its minority position would be perpetuated and the


FDP's undoubtedly correct analysis that change would spell

its death-knell, since it has virtually no chance of

winning direct mandates (see Conradt, 1970: 346-348). One

of the conditions for the current SPD/FDP coalition is

maintenance of the present electoral system (see Conradt,

1970: 355). All of which simply points to the fact that

despite initial allied intervention, the electoral system

meets certain domestic needs and is, to that degree, a

product of Germany's political development.

The Political Parties

Schlesinger (1966: 19) has stressed that any analysis

of political opportunities must give attention to the role

of political parties in structuring officeholding: "The

party is, after all, the most conspicuous organization

whose primary purpose is the control of the opportunities

for public office." The purpose of this section is to

briefly examine the organizational structure of the two

major parties on the assumption that parties "do not affect

opportunities primarily by their competitive relations . .

(but rather) by their organization" (Schlesinger, 1966: 119).

Figure 3 outlines the basic structural relationships

in the CDU/CSU and SPD. The CDU/CSU is composed of 397

Kreisverbaende which are the basic units. Below the Kreis

are any number of local organizations called Ortsverbaende,

established at the convenience of the Kreisverbaende. Above

the county unit are 18 Landesverbaende, the highest unit of

importance below the national party organization. The





o L

w a




Landesveboaende do not coincide with the present geographical

boundaries of the states, but tend to follow older, more

traditional boundaries. Thus, in Lower Saxony, there are

three Landesverbaenje, Braunschweig, Hannover and Oldenburg,

corresponding to the old Laender that were lumped into one

state after World War II.

In the SPD the Bezirk, or district, is the major

organizational unit below the national level. There are

22 Landesverbaende and Bezirkverbaende, roughly correspond-

ing to the secondary CDU units, although there is less

tendency to follow traditional geographical boundaries.

The smallest unit of the party is the Ortsverein or, in

the cities, the Stadtteilorganisation. In 1967 there were

9,717 of these local bodies (Jahrbuch der SPD, 196/67, c. 1967:163).

The 'Unterbezirke are intermediate bodies, subordinate to

the Bezirke, but participating with it in the selection of

the Parteitaq, nominally the highest organ in the party.

The central role of the parties in the political life

of Germany is well illustrated by their control of the

Parliamentary Council and its major outputs, the Basic Law

and the electoral statute (Merkl, 1963: 55, 91; Golay,

1958: 138-158). Unlike the American Constitution, political

parties are explicitly mentioned in Article 21 of the Basic

Law, thus achieving a legal, as well as political and

sociological position (Apel, 1969: 114-117).11 The deep

distrust of mass democracy and the common man which was

felt by the small minority of political activists in the

immediate postwar period led to an attempt to "reconstruct

democracy without the demos" (Merkl, 1963: 176). The in-

direct election of a weakened President, the "constructive

vote of no confidence," and the basically proportional

character of the electoral system are clear examples of

this trend.

The German party system and the political parties

themselves bear little resemblance to the situation during

the Imperial or Weimar eras. First of all, the trend is

clearly toward a two-party system 'see Table 3), despite

a proportional electoral law.12 Secondly, the major

parties are moderate, nonideological, interest "aggregators,"

rather than narrow interest articulatorss" (Edinger, 1968:

280-281). The prospects for political compromise and

system stability are enhanced under these conditions, mak-

ing possible, for example, the "Grand Coalition" of CDU/CSU

and SPD which was in power from 1966 to 1969, and the SPD/FDP

coalition since that date.

Stability has been achieved, however, only at the cost

of electoral accountability and intra-party democracy.

This is a harsh charge, but one that is frequently implicit,

if not explicit, in the analysis of the German political

system (see, for example, Edinger 1968: 266; Loewenberg,

1966: 67-70; Apel, 1969: 210; Heidenheimer, 1966: 120;

Dahrendorf, 1969: 252-265).13 As concerns intra-party

democracy, it is not necessary to dissect the cganizational

structure of the two parties in any great detail to


discover that both are led by relatively small, overlapping

elites of party and government. Advancement within paty

ranks is usually limited to executive committee members

serving at the next lower level in the party hierarchy

(see, for example, Mayntz, 1961). And in both parties the

executive committee or presidium is largely composed of

federal ministers, Bundestag Deputies, Land ministers, and

Landtag members (Jahrbuch der SPD, 1966/67, c. 1967: 228;

Politisches Jahrbuch der CDU und CSU Deutschlands, 1968,

1968: 2-3:.

As for electoral accountability, it is apparent that

the parties are not instruments of their broad member-

ship, much less the voters, but are tools of leadership.14

The following extensive quotation from Karl Jaspers'

The Future of Germany summarizes the basic arguments with

a power and perceptiveness unequaled by other commentators.

The authors of the Basic Law seem to
have dreaded the people, for the consti-
tution holds the people's power to a
minimum. Every four years they elect
the lower house of parliament, the
Bundestag, from lists of persons pre-
viously chosen by the parties. This
hidden primary election is the real
election, the one that decides not
only who goes on his party's list but
who goes high enough on-it to be assured
of a seat in the Bundestag under our
system of proportional representation.
The process is an involved one, with
nominations for district and state lists
handled in different manners. But it
is always the party organizations that
control this crucial first step, never
the people. To participate in the
primary election, or to be nominated
for it, one must have joined a party.
Party members do not have much
influence on nominations either. The

decisive choices are made by the
party hierarchy and bureaucracy.
In drawing up state lists, a party
member as such has no voice at all.
To be a voter in the full sense
of the word, participating from
nomination to general election, you
must join a party. Unless you do,
you cannot complain if all you get
to vote upon is what the parties hand
you. You elect people who have been
elected already, and your vote affects
only the number of party choices who
will sit in the Bundestag (1967: 3-4).

Heidenheimer (1966: 120) put it more simply when he wrote

"Even convinced democrats have reluctantly come to accept

that the German definition of democracy tends to mean

'government for the people' more than it does 'government by

the people.'"

Political Culture and Political Participation

The political parties were able to gain and maintain

their pivotal position in the political system, in part,

because of traditional attitudes of deference towards

authority and political passivity (see Dahrendorf, 1969:

63-77, 99-112, 314-327). In the aftermath of war it was

understandable that a large proportion of the population,

between 60 and 70 per cent in the years 1947 to 1949

would prefer to leave political affairs to others (see

Merritt and Merritt, 1970: 43-50). More recent public

opinion polls, however, indicate a continuing lack of

interest in politics (see Hartenstein and Schubert, 1961:

18, 22; Almond and Verba, 1965: 79). In 1967, 39 per cent

of survey respondents said they were interested in politics,

while 44 per cent said they were "not especially" interested

in the subject and 17 per cent expressed no interest at all

(Institut fur Demoskopie, 1967: Table 7). Similarly,

78 per cent of respondents in a 1965 survey rejected

personal political activity, while only 15 per cent said

they would like to be active or were already political

participants (Institut fir Demoskopie, 1967: Table 1).

There have been several suggestive attempts to quantify

levels of political participation in Germany and to arrange

them hierarchically in a manner resembling Milbrath's

(1965: 18) diagram (see Edinger, 1968: 168; Hartenstein and

Liepelt, 1962). Their most striking feature is the apparent

void in participation that exists between the act of voting

and what can reasonably be called gladiatorial activities.

It is in the middle-range political activities, such as

initiating political discussions, contacting public officials,

and joining civic-political organizations that German

democracy seems particularly weak.15 In the last Bundestag

elections, for example, 86 per cent of eligible voters

exercised their franchise, while in the preceding Landtag

elections about 77 per cent of the-electorate voted.

These rates are high compared to the United States, but

participation drops off sharply as one climbs the hierarchy

of political involvement. A 1966 survey revealed that

just 11 per cent of respondents had ever written a letter

to the editor (Institut fir Demoskopie, 1967: Table 9)

and Edinger (1968: 168) estimated that only 9 per cent

of the population attends meetings on public affairs,

while just 3 per cent are active in politics (1968: 168).

In comparative terms, Almond and Verba found that only

3 per cent of their German sample but 11 per cent of the

American group were involved in civic-political organizations

(1965: 247).

Political culture is an important variable affecting

the amount and kind of participation. Attitudes toward

political activity continue to fail short of democratic

ideals, particularly as defined by the term "civic culture,"

a qualitative interpretation of democracy that emphasizes

both formal participation and the degree of commitment

and orientation to political objects (Almond and Verba,

1965: 29-30). Americans have a strong sense of civic

duty, high levels of political efficacy, and frequently

take an active role in group affairs (Almond and Verba,

1965: 313). On the other hand, Almond and Verba see the

German system as "subject" rather than "participant"


Awareness of politics and political
activity, though substantial, tends
to be passive and formal . norms
favoring active political participa-
tion are not well developed (1965:

The act of voting is carried out from a sense of duty, not

interest, and little satisfaction is attached to it

(see DIVO-Institut, 1962: 131; Almond and Verba, 1965: 193).

Thus, for most Germans, political participation is limited

to the intermittent act of voting, reflecting the continuing

contrast between "private" and "public" virtues (see

Dahrendorf, 1967: 285-296) and foreshadowing the crucial

role played by oligarchic parties in the recruitment process.

Dahrendorf has summarized the situation admirably in the

concluding remarks of his chapter on "the unpolitical


This means that the political sphere
of life remains aliei to people, stuck
on like political education in the
classical grammar school. So far as
the habits of people is concerned, the
area below the ritual act of voting
is empty after all, that is, not filled
with activities of immediate political
relevance experienced as significant
by the individual. The political social-
ization of the German is incomplete. .

. This effect is expressed above all
in the quality of political behavior.
Democratic institutions are accepted;
but they remain external, distant,
ultimately irrelevant (1969: 325-326).

At the very least, contemporary attitudes toward political

activity significantly reduce the number of potential

"gladiators"; at the worst they reflect an underlying

instability in the system. Under these circumstances the

virtual necessity of "government for the people" is

readily apparent.

The Role of the Bundestaq and the Individual Deputy

All of the previously discussed factors--parliamentary

traditions, the totalitarian experience, military defeat

and occupation, political passivity, the electoral system

and the parties--are mutually interactive. Furthermore,

they collectively define the contemporary role of parlia-

mentary institutions in Germany. The Bundestag is definitely

inferior, both in the quality of its average member and

in political power, to the Chancellor and the various


The Basic Law formally distributes the
power to initiate, deliberate, and enact
public policy among executive and
parliamentary structures. In practice,
however, the Bundesregierung has con-
sistently been dominant in formulating
policy, the Bundesrat increasingly
influential, and the Bundestag of
diminishing effectiveness (Edinger,
1968: 298).

One indication of the relation between the Govern--

ment and the Lower House of Parliament is given by the

physical layout of the Bundeshaus, where members of the

government are seated in a slightly raised dias, the

Reqierunqsbank, facing the main body of the chamber. This

dias has recently been lowered from a height of 70 cm. above

floor level to just 18.5 cm. above the rest of the chamber,

but continues to reflect the traditional relationship

between Government and Parliament in Germany (see Frank-

furter Allgemeine Zeitunq, August 2, 1969: 3). Another

indicator is the lack of a significant research establish-

ment devoted exclusively to the legislative branch, due

to the prestige of the executive bureaucracy and the

existence of extensive party bureaucracies (Loewenberg,

1966: 54-55). Perhaps the most significant indicator is

the initiating source of legislation. Table 4 shows the

amount of legislation initiated by the government, the

Bundestag, and the Bundesrat in the first five electoral

periods (1949-1969). Most legislation (56.1 per cent)

originated with the executive departments, although the

Bundestag still had the opportunity to revise and refine,

or even reject the proposals. Even more revealing, however,

is the source of bills which eventually became law. In the

fifth session 80.7 per cent of all successful bills

originated in the government (see Statistisches Jahrbuch

fir die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1970: 115).



Bundesregie-ung Bundestag Bundesrat Total

First period 486 301 29 816
Second period
Second(13od a 442 414 16 872

Third period 391 207 5 603
Fourth period 3 2 8
(1961-1965)a 373 245 8 26
Fifth period ,
Fifth period 415 225 14 654
Total 2,107 1,392 72 3,571

aAs listed in Walper, K. (1966). Frderalismus.
Nos. 22/23, Zur Politik und Zeitgeschichte. Berlin:
Landeszentrale fUr politische Bildungsarbeit Berlin in
verbindung mit dem Otto-Suhr-Institut an der freien.
University Berlin, p. 59.
bAs listed in Statistisches Jahrbuch fir die Bundes-
republik Deutschland (1970). Wiesbaden: Statistisches
Bundesamt, p. 115.

Given the subordinate position of the Bundestag itself

and the existence of strong party organizations with the

power to deny nomination and, thus, election or re-election

to prospective Members, the unenviable position of the

individual Deputy is to be expected. Although the percent-

age of positive responses has risen steadily since the

question was first asked in 1951, 28 per cent of survey

respondents in 1964 still said that it did not take great

ability to become a Bundestag Deputy and another 18 per cent

were undecided (Institut fur Demoskopie, 1967: Table 17).

Similarly, several surveys have indicated that only a very

small percentage of the electorate, between 12 and 17

per cent, is even aware of any activity on the part of the

Representative elected by their district, a further

indication of their lack of individual importance (see

Ras chke, 1965: 50; Noelle and Neumann, 1967: 230). Within

the Bundestag "leadership has increasingly been exercised

by a small group of professional parliamentarians possess-

ing the relevant tactical skills" (Loewenberg, 1966 433).

These leaders make committee assignments, determine who will

speak in favor or against a given bill in the very limited

time granted to debate, and, in general, dominate the

proceedings of Parliament. Loewenberg (1966: 387) found

that in the Third Bundestag three-fifths of the Members

spoke ten times or less during the four-year term and that

fewer than one-fifth of the Members made over two-thirds

of the speeches.

Despite its subordination to the executive branch, the

Bundestag continues to play an important role in the

political life of Germany. But it is not easy to specify

the exact nature of that role (see Carter and Herz, 1967:

423-431). Plischke (1969: 67) has written that "in some

respects it does not appear to enjoy the power and prestige

indicative of certain other democratic systems, but neither

is it comparable to the pseudo-representative agencies of

the nominal or quasi-democracies." In addition to its role

in policy formation, the Bundestag performs at least two

other important functions. First of all, it is almost the

sole source of ministerial recruitment today, in sharp

contrast o -earlier eras (see Knight, 1952). Secondly, it

serves a system-legitimizing role through the performance

of "electoral conversion functions" which "affects the

level of public support for the regime, which in turn

affects regime stability" (Loewenberg, 1971: 187; see also

Raschke, 1968: 13-17).

The Bundestag's system-legitimizing role is intimately

bound up with the induction of new members into the Federal

Republic's primary legislative organ. As Schlesinger

(1966: 2) perceptively observed: "A political system unable

to kindle ambitions for office is as much in danger of

breaking down as one unable to restrain ambitions." Given

the existence of political ambition, system legitimacy and

stability are increased by providing regular and predict-


able opportunities for advancement. The examination of

the social and political bases of Bundestag recruitment

in the following chapters should enhance our understanding

of its multi-faceted role in contemporary German politics.