National Front (East Germany)

The Nationale Front election poster from 1950

The National Front of the German Democratic Republic (German: Nationale Front der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, NF) until 1973 the National Front of Democratic Germany German: Nationale Front des Demokratischen Deutschlands) was an alliance (Popular Front) of political parties and mass organisations in East Germany (also known as a Blockpartei). The NF was controlled by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany and was formed to stand in elections to the East German parliament, the Volkskammer ("People's Chamber").

Constituent parties

(all existing parties until 7 October 1989)

Constituent mass organisations

Mass organisations with representatives in the People's Chamber of the GDR
Other organisations and associations


Pavilion of the National Front in Leipzig, 1953

The National Front was the successor to the Demokratischer Block which had been founded in the Soviet occupation zone. The Front itself was founded on March 30, 1950. It operated through the issuing of a generally consistent proportion of seats (divided between the Front's parties and SED-controlled mass organisations) submitted in the form of a single list of candidates during each election to the People's Chamber. Seats were awarded on the basis of a set quota rather than vote totals.[1] As voters only had the option of approving or rejecting the list in far-from-secret conditions, it "won" with virtually unanimous levels of support.[2]

Although nominally a broad-based coalition of parties, in practice the SED was the only one with any real power. By ensuring that Communists dominated the lists, the SED essentially predetermined the composition of the People's Chamber.

In 1950-1951, the public rejection of the validity of the list by some German politicians resulted in some of them being imprisoned for "rejecting the electoral law of the German Democratic Republic" (as in the case of LDPD leader Günter Stempel). Although the SED had already become a full-fledged Stalinist "party of the new type" by the formation of the GDR, the other parties did not completely bend to the SED's will for a time. By the mid-1950s, however, the more courageous members of the constituent parties had been pushed out, and the parties had all been transformed into loyal partners of the SED. By this time, the SED itself had purged its few independent-minded members as well. The Front now took on a character similar to other groupings in the Eastern Bloc. For the next three decades, the minor parties in the Front had to accept the SED's "leading role" as a condition of their continued existence.

On December 1, 1989, the Front was effectively rendered impotent when the Volkskammer deleted the provision of the Constitution of East Germany that gave the SED a monopoly of power. Four days later, the Christian Democratic Union and Liberal Democratic Party, having thrown out their pro-Communist leaderships, withdrew from the Front. On December 16 the SED, having transformed itself into a democratic socialist party, reformed itself into the Party of Democratic Socialism. On February 20, 1990, an amendment to the constitution removed mention of the Front.[3]

Chairmen of the National Front

See also


  1. Eugene Register-Guard October 29, 1989. p. 5A.
  2. Kurt Sontheimer & Wilhelm Bleek. The Government and Politics of East Germany. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1975. p. 66.
  3. Peter E. Quint. The Imperfect Union: Constitutional Structures of German Unification. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. 1997. p. 37.

External links

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