The end of the Christian Social Union’s post-war political supremacy in Bavaria after the state election on 14 October can be described as the final nail in that uniquely German historical phenomenon called “Die Bonner Republik”.
And the election outcome only accelerates the ongoing profound reshuffle of the German political landscape that has slowly unfolded since the fall of the Berlin wall.
The Green Party succeeded where Social-democrats have always failed: to break the almost 70 years of CSU’s supremacy in Bavaria. And this is no accident, a consensus now prevails that the period of “quasi-monarchy” is over in the Free State of Bavaria and political normality, i.e. pluralism, has returned.
In so doing, the Greens tore down the last remnants of what once was the Bonn Republic, or West Germany, whose period stretches between its creation in 1949 to the German reunification on 3 October 1990.
This slice of history, especially the decade before the fall of the Berlin wall, is generally characterised by a strong economic and political stability, with a vision of the world divided between east and west, social-democrats and conservatives, fathers going to work and mothers staying at home.
In his cult book “Generation Golf”, German journalist and author Florian Illies describes life during the last decade of Western Germany, putting into words that middle-class comfort that offered few surprises.
“It was certainly the most boring decade of the 20th century. Everyone was doing fine, one had hardly anything to be afraid of, and when you turned on the TV, you always saw Helmut Kohl, Nicole sang of a little peace, Boris Becker played a bit of tennis, coffee was suddenly called Cappuccino, and that was about it. ”
One can also add that very peculiar haircut called ‘vokuhila’ (aka ‘the mullet‘ – short in the front and long behind), proudly displayed by Dieter Bohlen and Thomas Anders, the duo that formed Modern Talking, that always disconcerted visitors from other Western European countries.
For the visitors, the CSU-Bavaria was the quintessence of the Bonner Republik. The region was prosperous, the landscape idyllic and the people friendly, if sometimes difficult to understand because of their dialect.
The Greens were their most outspoken adversaries.
This is also why this regional election has been so widely scrutinised in Germany: because everyone was aware that a political era came to an end.
There is one piece of the Bonner Republik, though, that still remains and is deeply rooted in Germany: police television drama Tatort, which has been running continuously since 1970.
Just for comparison, Jean-Claude Juncker, one of the longest-serving political leaders in the world, was only 16 then.
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By Sam Morgan
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