Presentation 18: Western Europe

Western Europe
From reconstruction to
recovery & beyond
Cold war tensions
Berlin Blockade & Airlift, 1948-49
Korean War
Sputnik launched (1957)
U-2 incident: American spy plane captured
Cuban missile crisis
Berlin Wall constructed, 1961
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
Skirmishes & tensions along iron
Cold war as source of stability?
Divided Europe is a stable Europe
Supranational alliances limit options for foreign policy
Structures developed
• European Community
• to facilitate trade
Focus primarily on economy, well-being
If countries involved in conflict, it is external & concerned
with diminishing reach -- e.g. battles over de-colonization
Indonesia (Netherlands)
Indo-China (France)
Malaya (UK)
Kenya (UK)
Algeria (France)
Economic outlook
Sustained economic growth in 1950s & ’60s
Successful state intervention in most
• Counter-cyclical management (Keynsian
demand management)
• Managed capitalism
 Voluntary economic planning (France)
 In some countries, coordination by ‘social
partners (trade union federations &
employers associations)
 Governments managing business cycle
• Expansion and elaboration of welfare states
Full employment & labour shortages by mid
The UK: post-war consensus
`Butskellism:’ Labour and Conservatives agree
• Mixed economy, managed to ensure full employment
• Desirability of welfare state to ensure minimum levels of
Consensus reflects:
• Conservatives’ acceptance of most of Labour’s
• Labour leadership’s recognition that most of its goals
can be achieved in the context of a mixed economy
• Agreement on tools of Keynsian economics – demand
1950s = time of relative prosperity:
• Harold MacMillan: ‘you never had it so good’
UK: Economic problems in 1960s
Slower rates of economic growth
Frequent strikes, troubled labour relations
• Strong trade unions, craft-based,
frequent jurisdictional disputes
Aging industrial plant reflecting
• Earlier industrialization
• Relative lack of wartime destruction
Unsuccessful attempts to imitate France’s
indicative (voluntary) economic planning
4th Republic France
Ongoing urbanization and industrialization
• facilitated by economic planning, state-directed
Ongoing conflict over form of government
Chronic cabinet instability:
• 26 cabinets between 1946 & 1958
Ongoing conflict over decolonization
• Indochina
• Algeria
The Fifth Republic
Presidential regime established in 1958,
following threatened military coup
• De Gaulle summoned back to power
• Proposes mixed presidential-parliamentary
• Negotiates Algerian independence
Presidential Republic brings relative stability
• Entrenches right: controls Presidency &
parliament until 1981
Yet, government nearly toppled in 1968,
following massive student strikes, occupation
of buildings, demonstrations
Federal Republic of Germany
Under allied guidance, return to earlier
Emphasis on rechtstaat – a ‘state of law’
Rapid reduction in the number of political
• 1949 as “the last election of Weimar”
• Introduction of the 5% electoral threshold in
• Rapid elimination of smaller parties
Predominance of Christian Democratic Union,
Social Democrats, and Free Democrats
The economic miracle
Cooperation at home
• ‘social market economy’
• Cooperation of unions, employers, investment
Stability of Deutschmark
• under watchful eye of Bundesbank (an
independent central bank) within new
international regime
Rapid economic recovery
• facilitated through 1961 by influx of refugees
from the east
• Marshall Plan aid
• Recovery elsewhere
Cementing Germany into the West
Loyal ally:
• FRG allowed to join NATO in 1955
• Frontier in Cold War
Loyal European: founding member
• European Coal & Steel Community
• Euratom and European Economic
Community (EEC), also 1956
The new party politics
Ascendency of Christian Democratic
Union (CDU) under Konrad
• CDU as a volkspartei or people’s party,
open to all comers (Protestants as well as
• Campaigns on success of ‘social market
• ‘No experiments’
Social Democrats (SPD)
• As before, a Marxist party, but willing to
work within the system
• Electoral support levels off at ~ 33%
• 1959 Party Congress (Bad Godesberg)
expunges all references to class conflict
Free Democrats (FDP): small liberal
party, able to ally with CDU (1949-1966)
or later, SPD (1969-82)
Germany in the 1950s
A sense of exhaustion?
• A society turned in on itself
• Discomfort with conflict
• Comfortable with Adenauer’s campaign
promise: “No experiments”
Silence: little public or private discussion
of holocaust
Strong sense of law (rechtstaat) – laws
must be obeyed
A puzzle:
How was it possible to establish liberal
democracy in the aftermath of Nazism?
 Impact of affluence
 Narrowing of political agenda and political
• Exclusion of extreme parties and options
The levelling effects of Nazism (view of
Ralf Dahrendorf)
Pre-eminent position of Christian
Democracy (DC)
• Draws support from Vatican, practicing
• Governs, typically in coalition with others
• Extends support via clientelismo
Principal opposition
• Italian Communist Party (PCI)
Governing party in Bologna, Emilia Romagna
Steady growth through 1970s
• Italian Social Movement (MSI) – small ultra
right party
Persistent North-South & regional divisions
A new Europe?
By the early 1960s:
 Most colonies shed, sometimes more
smoothly than others:
• Britain manages,
• traumatic for France, Netherlands, Belgium
Earlier cleavages, conflicts for the most
part channelled, under control…
Governments play active role in economic
Beginnings of affluence
New social mores
Balance sheet
Economic stability
Conflicts contained
Political stability
• Minimal support for extreme politics
• Few changes in government: coalitions endure
over several elections
A Germany, partitioned
which France tolerate
with which the west could live
that could be integrated into Europe
In which normality could prevail (eventually)