Parliamentary Chamber: Volkskammer


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Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  18 March 1990

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in Parliament following premature dissolution of this body. General elections had previously been held in June 1986.

Background and outcome of elections:

  The election date, originally scheduled for 6 May, was moved up to 18 March. Fort the first time, political parties other than those in the country’s National Front could nominate candidates. The polling was thus the first free exercise of the suffrage in the GDR, coming some four months after installation of a reformist Government in November 1989.

Altogether 24 parties and alliances contested the reduced Volkskammer’s 400 seats. Their programmes centered mainly on when and how reunification with the Federal Republic of (West) Germany should take place, and the campaign was punctuated by frequent appearances of West German politicians accompanied by a considerable influx of party funds. The conservative Alliance for Germany (led by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) backed by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and also comprising the German Social Union (DSU) and the Democratic Awakening) advocated a fast unification pace, with monetary union followed shortly thereafter by political mergers, as well as a market economy; its slogan was: "no more socialist experiments". On the other hand, purely East German groupings such as the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) – the former ruling communist party – and the left-wing Alliance ’90 called for retention of particular GDR characteristics, underlining in particular the State-provided comprehensive social protection. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) stood in the middle, favoring cautious unity in order to avoid problems of unemployment and economic stability but also preservation of some of the GDR’s socialist traditions.

Observers largely interpreted the early favorite SPD’s relatively poor showing on polling day to this stance, as the electorate was seen to consider rapid unity as the most promising route towards an improved economy and greater prosperity. With the CDU leading the way, the Alliance for Germany, on the other hand, won a surprising 48% of the popular vote and 192 seats. The PDS, led by Mr. Gregor Gysi, came in third, behind the Social Democrats, headed by Mr. Ibrahim Böhme. Of the total parliamentary membership, only about a dozen were incumbents.

Given the polling result, the winning partners asked the SPD to join in a "grand coalition" Government. The latter initially refused, then agreed to this proposal, and the new Council of Ministers was sworn in on 12 April. Led by Prime Minister Lothar de Maizière (the CDU leader), the five-party coalition included the Alliance for Germany groups, the SPD and the Alliance of Free Democrats (BFD). The inaugural Volkskammer session had taken place on 5 April. It met for the very last time on 2 October, on the eve of German reunification. Until the elections of 2 December 1990, 144 members of the Volkskammer were to sit as observers in the Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Round no 1 (18 March 1990): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 12,426,443
Voters 11,604,418 (93.38%)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 63,263
Valid votes 11,541,155

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Votes %
Alliance for Germany 5,544,474 48.04
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 2,525,534 21.88
Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) 1,892,381 16.40
Alliance of Free Democrats (BFD) 608,935 5.28
Alliance ’90 336,074 2.91
Democratic Farmers’ Party (DBD) 251,226 2.18
Green Party – Independent Women’s League 226,932 1.97
National Democratic Party (NDPD) 44,292 0.38
Democratic Women’s League (DFD) 38,192 0.33
Action Alliance United Left (AVL) 20,342 0.17
Others 52,773 0.45

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
Alliance for Germany 192
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 88
Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) 66
Alliance of Free Democrats (BFD) 21
Alliance ’90 12
Democratic Farmers’ Party (DBD) 9
Green Party – Independent Women’s League 8
National Democratic Party (NDPD) 2
Democratic Women’s League (DFD) 1
Action Alliance United Left (AVL) 1
Others 0

  The Alliance for Germany is formed by:
  • Christian Democratic Union (CDU): 163 seats
  • German Social Union (DSU): 25 seats
  • Democratic Awakening: 4 seats

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 318
Women: 82

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Copyright © 1990 Inter-Parliamentary Union