Episode 53: The Changing Dynamics of German Politics
Senior Fellow; Director, Society, Culture & Politics Program
Dr. Eric Langenbacher is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Society, Culture & Politics Program at AICGS.
Dr. Langenbacher studied in Canada before completing his PhD in Georgetown University’s Government Department in 2002. His research interests include collective memory, political culture, and electoral politics in Germany and Europe. Recent publications include the edited volumes Twilight of the Merkel Era: Power and Politics in Germany after the 2017 Bundestag Election (2019), The Merkel Republic: The 2013 Bundestag Election and its Consequences (2015), Dynamics of Memory and Identity in Contemporary Europe (co-edited with Ruth Wittlinger and Bill Niven, 2013), Power and the Past: Collective Memory and International Relations (co-edited with Yossi Shain, 2010), and From the Bonn to the Berlin Republic: Germany at the Twentieth Anniversary of Unification (co-edited with Jeffrey J. Anderson, 2010). With David Conradt, he is also the author of The German Polity, 10th and 11th edition (2013, 2017).
Dr. Langenbacher remains affiliated with Georgetown University as Teaching Professor and Director of the Honors Program in the Department of Government. He has also taught at George Washington University, Washington College, The University of Navarre, and the Universidad Nacional de General San Martin in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has given talks across the world. He was selected Faculty Member of the Year by the School of Foreign Service in 2009 and was awarded a Fulbright grant in 1999-2000 and the Hopper Memorial Fellowship at Georgetown in 2000-2001. Since 2005, he has also been Managing Editor of German Politics and Society, which is housed in Georgetown’s BMW Center for German and European Studies. Dr. Langenbacher has also planned and run dozens of short programs for groups from abroad, as well as for the U.S. Departments of State and Defense on a variety of topics pertaining to American and comparative politics, business, culture, and public policy.
President of AICGS
Jeffrey Rathke is the President of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC.
Prior to joining AICGS, Jeff was a senior fellow and deputy director of the Europe Program at CSIS, where his work focused on transatlantic relations and U.S. security and defense policy. Jeff joined CSIS in 2015 from the State Department, after a 24-year career as a Foreign Service Officer, dedicated primarily to U.S. relations with Europe. He was director of the State Department Press Office from 2014 to 2015, briefing the State Department press corps and managing the Department's engagement with U.S. print and electronic media. Jeff led the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur from 2011 to 2014. Prior to that, he was deputy chief of staff to the NATO Secretary General in Brussels. He also served in Berlin as minister-counselor for political affairs (2006–2009), his second tour of duty in Germany. His Washington assignments have included deputy director of the Office of European Security and Political Affairs and duty officer in the White House Situation Room and State Department Operations Center.
Mr. Rathke was a Weinberg Fellow at Princeton University (2003–2004), winning the Master’s in Public Policy Prize. He also served at U.S. Embassies in Dublin, Moscow, and Riga, which he helped open after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mr. Rathke has been awarded national honors by Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as several State Department awards. He holds an M.P.P. degree from Princeton University and B.A. and B.S. degrees from Cornell University. He speaks German, Russian, and Latvian.
Non-Resident Senior Fellow
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger is non-Resident Senior Fellow at AICGS.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens, and the Liberal FDP has just passed 100 days in office, faced with Russia’s war on Ukraine and an increasingly uncertain economic situation. How is their new “traffic light” coalition capturing the public imagination? The state election in Saarland on March 27, 2022 saw a huge victory for the SPD and big loss for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The SPD’s coalition partners the Greens and the FDP appear to have fallen short of the threshold to enter the Saarland state legislature.
On this episode of The Zeitgeist, AICGS President Jeff Rathke, AICGS Senior Fellow and Director of Society, Culture, and Politics Program Eric Langenbacher and AICGS Non-Resident Senior Fellow Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger discuss the national significance of this election and its implications for German political parties as well as Germany’s foreign and domestic policies. Does the victory for SPD reflect public approval for Olaf Scholz’s handling of the war in Ukraine and the government’s COVID policies? How does the CDU’s historically bad result in Saarland reflect on Friedrich Merz’s leadership of the party? What can we take away from the performances of smaller parties, especially the collapse of The Left party (Die Linke)? Is this election a bellwether for the upcoming elections in North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein? Join us to keep your finger on the pulse of German politics!
Jeff Rathke, President, AICGS