Social Democratic Party in the GDR

Social Democratic Party in the GDR

The Social Democratic Party in the GDR (Sozialdemokratische Partei in der DDR (SDP)) was founded on 7 October 1989 in Schwante near Berlin and it merged with the Social Democratic Party of Germany on 26 September 1990 in Berlin.

The main initiators of the foundation were
theologians Markus Meckel and Martin Gutzeit, who made the organizational preparations. In April 1989, the first draft of the foundation appeal, that was presented in August in the community of "Berliner Golgathagemeinde", was produced. By virtue of this event, Ibrahim Böhme joined the initiators.

At the foundation assembly in the vicarage of Schwante around 40 or 50 people took part, mostly from Berlin and the Southern part of the GDR. The programmer Stephan Hilsberg was elected as the first spokesman of the party, Ibrahim Böhme became manager "(Geschäftsführer)".

Between October and December, SDP regional groups were formed in different towns and cities. The SDP got two seats at the central Round Table ("Zentraler Runder Tisch") of the GDR [the round table talks took place between the Modrow cabinet and various opposition groups, SDP incl.] from 13 January 1990 onwards. After decision of the First Conference of Delegates in Berlin, the SDP started to use the abbreviation SPD, which was an allusion to the Social Democratic Party of the FRG. The foundation of party local groups at the district level also took place at that time. On 29 January the SPD (like other opposition groups) delegated a minister without portfolio (Walter Romberg) to the newly formed cabinet of Hans Modrow.

The first party congress ("Parteitag") from 22 to 25 February 1990 in Leipzig introduced the election of the first executive board of the party. The programme of principles and the statute of the SPD in the GDR were determined as well. The session that took place around three weeks before the parliamentary election could be regarded as an election conference as well.

The People's Chamber election in March 1990 was a failure for the social democrats. Instead of the absolute majority they had expected, the SPD got 21.9% of the vote and 88 seats. Their best results were in districts of Berlin (34.9%), Potsdam (34.4%) and Frankfurt (Oder) (31.9%). By far the worst result was 9.7% in the district of Dresden. After internal debates the party members agreed to coalition talks with the winner of the election, the christian democratic "Allianz für Deutschland" [consisting of the CDU, DSU and Demokratischer Aufbruch] as well as with the "Bund Freier Demokraten" (of liberal parties).

At the time of the process of coalition talks, the SPD chairman Ibrahim Böhme was unmasked in the newspaper "Der Spiegel" as having worked for decades as an 'informal collaborator' of the Stasi. Though Böhme failed to acknowledge his misdeeds, he agreed to suspend his functions as one of the leaders of the SPD (he was finally expelled in 1992). Before the election, many regarded the SPD as the most probable winner, and Böhme was expected to become the PM. On 8 April 1990 Markus Meckel was chosen as the interim chairman of the SPD in GDR, until an extraordinary meeting in Halle (Saale) on 9. June 1990 elected Wolfgang Thierse as the chairman. At the same time, Willy Brandt was elected as honorary chairman of the SPD in GDR.

From 12. April to 20. August 1990 the SPD participated in the cabinet of the Christian Democrat Lothar de Maizière with six ministers, among them Markus Meckel (foreign affairs), Regine Hildebrandt (social issues) und Walter Romberg (finance). Reinhard Höppner was the vice-chairman of the People's Chamber.

On the party congress of 26 September 1990 the SPD in the GDR united with the SPD of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Notes and references


*de icon Wolfgang Grof: "In der frischen Tradition des Herbstes 1989". Die SDP/SPD in der DDR: Von der Gründung über die Volkskammerarbeit zur deutschen Einheit", Download: [ als PDF-Datei 308 KB]

See also

*Demokratischer Aufbruch
*Neues Forum
*Demokratie Jetzt
*Social Democratic Party of Germany

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