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Having delineated the core constitutive elements of the Christian Democratic ideology in Part I of the book, Part II examines its historical instantiations and prospects for the future. Thus, whereas in the first part the approach was largely synchronic, here we look at the Christian Democratic ideology from a more diachronic perspective. This will also allow for greater attention to the internal heterogeneity of the various manifestations of the Christian Democratic ideology over time, which is something that had previously been somewhat obscured by the intention of reconstructing this ideology’s conceptual unity. I begin by discussing Christian Democracy’s historical trajectory in its primary context of origin, that is, continental Europe, focusing in particular on three national experiences: those of Italian, German and French Christian Democratic parties. The ensuing chapters broaden the focus, discussing the European Union as a whole, Latin America and the question of Christian Democracy’s lingering normative potential.
This chapter examines the world in which the BdL was established. It centres on the period 1948–51, the latter being the year when monetary sovereignty was transferred by the Allies to the West Germans. The chapter documents the opinions of West German elites in the lead-up to the creation of the BdL, noting that they were split on the question of central bank independence. It argues that a political struggle surrounding the future of the central bank incentivised a variety of West German elites to confront their inter-war monetary history. The chapter then shows how the BdL adopted an active press policy in the effort to influence the Bundesbank Law. Such efforts failed to prove effective during this period, however. Other events, such as the Allied decision to transfer monetary sovereignty to West Germany in 1951, proved more decisive. But it was in this very period that the central bank established a workable framework of historical narratives that could be applied for political ends.
This chapter examines the final years of the Bundesbank Law debate. It devotes particular attention to a 1956 public attack launched by the chancellor, Adenauer, on the central bank. The chapter argues that the crucial consequence of the ‘Gürzenich affair’ was the narrowing of the parameters of monetary debate through which West Germans interpreted the inter-war era. It argues that the provisions outlined in the Bundesbank Law reconfirmed an institutional conflict between Bonn and Frankfurt, one that was originally left behind by the Allied authorities. In providing no formal process through which conflicts between the federal government and the central bank could be solved quietly, the Bundesbank Law increased the likelihood that such disagreements would become ‘dramatised’ and spill into the public sphere. These disagreements gave rise to public controversies surrounding central bank independence, and in turn, provided further instances in which inflation narratives could be geared in support of the Bundesbank. It explains West Germany’s cultural preoccupation with inflation in institutional terms.
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