Germany is the archetypal core Eurozone country and its labour movement is
one which is well-organized and moderate. After the launch of the euro, the
capacity of German unions to control wages via well-established sectoral
bargaining institutions ensured that the country increasingly enjoyed
competitive advantage within EMU (Hassel, 2014). The case of Germany
consequently allows assessment of the extent to which unions may use
sectoral bargaining to plan competitiveness. It is argued that constraints
on the ability of unions to calculate precluded such strategies and that the
superior competitiveness of Germany was the result of structural influences.
Following the onset of crisis and the implementation of austerity in
Southern Europe, German ascendancy within the Eurozone raised the question
of the extent to which a core labour movement was likely to extend
solidarity to benighted counterparts. Though SPD often denounced austerity,
certain actions of the party could be perceived as supportive. The
disagreement of German unions with austerity was more vocal, yet their
commitment to concrete opposition was arguably lacklustre (Dribbusch, 2015).
The chapter concludes that the lukewarm reaction of German labour was rooted
in the dominant national position within EMU.
This chapter explores the reasons for the state of surprise, sketching them out from the starting point of the significant impact of the collapse of the USSR on Western understandings of Russia. It also explores the practical ramifications for the decline of Russia as a political priority on the wider political stage. The chapter outlines some of the problems of the current mainstream discussion of Russia, which is drowning in a discourse of speculation and rumour, 'Putinology' and historical analogies. Despite the dominance of transitological/regime question approach and the perceived eccentricity of Kremlinology, for many it has remained a truism of Russian political life that the final decisions are made behind the closed doors of the Kremlin. In fact, the collapse of the USSR has had serious ramifications for the study of Russia in the West, resulting in a major reassessment of Soviet studies, often bitter and acrimonious.