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Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century$
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Elin Haugsgjerd Allern and Tim Bale

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790471.001.0001

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Growing Apart?

Growing Apart?

Trade Unions and Centre-left Parties in Germany

(p.130) 7 Growing Apart?
Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century

Tim Spier

Oxford University Press

For most of post-war German history, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the major trade union confederation DGB and its member unions formed a ‘privileged partnership’. Both sides profited from a mutually beneficial exchange of resources—the electoral support of millions of unionized voters in exchange for privileged access to parliamentary and governmental power. With the adoption of a new ‘Third Way’ strategy under Social Democratic chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the early 2000s, relations with the major unions deteriorated. This chapter concludes that the system of links between parties and trade unions in Germany transformed into a ‘pluralized partnership’, in which the unions try to build situational coalitions with any partner willing to cooperate in order to maximize their direct or indirect influence on policy making.

Keywords:   trade unions, Germany, political parties, SPD, Die Linke

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