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All in all one can say, that flags are not frequently used by parties in Germany, and where they are used, they are logo-on-bedsheet flags. I have written to most of the acknowledged parties to obtain first-hand information.
Marcus Schmöger, 14 Aug 2000
There are two problems with German party flags (more or less current ones). Firstly, what is a flag, proper? For political parties in Germany (most of them at least) the term 'flag' (German Flagge or Fahne) does not exist in a proper sense. If you ask them for the flag, they would answer you, "We have a logo, of course; we put that on our flags for demonstrations, as well." If you have a look at the 'flag', it is a demonstration poster, not a proper flag (I call a flag "a piece of cloth fastened to a pole on one side"; a demo poster "a piece of cloth fastened to poles on two opposite sides"). However, for the political flags in Germany, this distinction might be a very artificial one. Both flags and demonstration posters are just cloth pieces with an advertising message.
Secondly, there are always variants available, either homemade or made somewhere more centrally. One never knows if these are official or semi-official variants, or old variants etc. If they are old variants, they would be used until unserviceable. You wouldn't get any good information from the parties' headquarters on the flag variants.
Marcus Schmöger, 20 Mar 2002
There are three problems with German party flags in the 1970-1990 era:
- About 1965-1970, major parties started a different approach towards flags: away from the "ideological symbol", towards the flag as a form of advertisement - see for instance the entry Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands in Rabbow 1970 [rab70] - that is changed every two to four years. Compare the CDU party flag of 1953 with that of 1999: there have been an unknown number of different designs between these two.
- There were a lot of new - small and unsuccessful - parties in this era, most of them gone now without leaving a vexillological trace. Many of these, especially the so-called K-groups - communist groups of different orientation -, used flags that are not well known.
- There is no publication on the party flags of this era, which means going to archives, browsing through newspapers etc. to find information on these party flags.
Marcus Schmöger, 24 Jun 2002
Most of the smaller postwar parties are not in existence any more, the only ones existing continuously from 1965 (or before) until nowadays being Zentrum, FSU, BP, SSW; the DP was revived in 1993, a DNVP was shortly revived in 1988.
Sources: Rabbow 1965 [rab65]; Rabbow 1970 [rab70]; Weißmann 1991 [wei91]; Fischer Weltalmanach 1965; Peter J., Winterberg Y., Fromm R., Nach Hitler: Radikale Rechte rüsten auf, three videos each about 45 min., ARD/MDR, 2001; Fisher S.L., The minor parties of the Federal Republic of Germany: toward a comparative theory of minor parties, Nijhoff, The Hague, 1974; Mintzel A., Oberreuter H., Parteien in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, Bonn, 1992; Hirsch K., Rechts von der Union: Personen, Organisationen, Parteien seit 1945, Knesebeck & Schuler, Munich, 1989.
Marcus Schmöger, 10 Sep 2001
Beside the usual parties, independent, "party-free" lists take part in local elections, usually on a municipal and county level. As these are organized on a local level, and just loosely joint together in umbrella organizations, the names of these lists differ somewhat. They are called, for instance: Freie Wähler (Free Voters), Überparteiliche Wähler (Supra-Partisan Voters), Freie Wählergemeinschaft (Free Voters' Association) or the like. In more recent times the umbrella organizations, most notably the Free Voters Bavaria (Freie Wähler Bayern), have been trying to organize a tighter cooperation, and even discuss taking part in the next-higher level of elections, the elections to the Landtag (State Parliament). The German-wide umbrella organization calls itself simply Freie Wähler. The Freie Wähler are usually considered conservative, but they are mainly pragmatic, as the usual party ideologies do not easily fit into municipal politics. They frequently stress that their only "ideology" is that they are "not a party".
Source: German Freie Wähler website.
Marcus Schmöger, 21 June 2002