Professors Discuss German Politics

Casey Davidow

Tuesday night, Professor of Political Science Timothy Byrnes, Assistant Professor of Political Science Edward Fogarty and Max Kade fellow Carolin Ludi presented a panel discussion on recent political developments in Germany. The occasion of the presentation was the recent German elections and the upcoming 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Associate Professor of Political Science Professor Barry Shain moderated, and participated, in the discussion.

The conversation began with Byrnes’ discussion of the electoral process in Germany. He highlighted Germany’s proportional representation model for elections and its difference from the United States’ winner-take-all elections.

Ludi provided the German perspective on the election. He noted that in terms of voting tendencies, the Berlin Wall might as well still be up because the Left Party gets significantly more votes in the East. This prompted discussion of how complete the reunification of Germany has actually been.

Fogarty discussed the role that Germany plays in the European Union, contrasting it with the role that Germany plays in international peace and security. Germany is by far the largest contributor to the European Union, receiving minimal benefits, whereas it contributes very little to global organizations and unions.

A question-and-answer session followed the professors’ three fifteen-minute presentations. The session featured an active debate among the professors on the panel as well as other German and political science professors attending the lecture.

Questions came up concerning the prospect of a winner-take-all scenario for German elections and the consequence that such a system would have on the further unification of Eastern and Western Germany. Professors debated this topic at some length as different perspectives on the issue came up.

Senior Adam Hughes commented that he appreciated the “interdisciplinary aspect” of the lecture, and enjoyed the variety of perspectives that the different professors brought to the table.

Professor Shain added that the panel discussion was a natural event to hold in light of the recent election and expressed surprise at the large attendance.