“Just as in all socialist states, power has been vested in the working class, and this for more than twenty years now. Led by its party, the SED, it has created a socialist state of workers and farmers. It determines government policy. It holds the key positions in the state apparatus. This provides the guarantee that all organs of the socialist state are guided by the interests of the working people, the working class, the cooperative farmers, the intelligentsia and all other sections of the community.
Recruited from the ranks of the working class are 60 percent of all officers of state in the various government departments, 70 per cent of all employees of county and district councils and 75 per cent of all mayors in towns and villages.
Since the working class gives the lead in this state and ideas and proposals, interests and needs of workers are given close attention in our community. No one will find himself at a disadvantage before any institution- whether an authority, housing commission or court of law- because he is ‘only’ a worker. On the contrary, the word of the working man carries special weight at all levels of the state and society.
The Influence of the Trade Unions
With a membership of 7.3 million the FDGB is the biggest public organization in the GDR. The working class exerts much of its influence on public affairs through the trade unions. Their sweeping rights concerning large-scale participation in the building of an advanced socialist society in all fields of national life are stipulated in the Constitution.
The trade unions have a group of their own in Parliament. They have the right to initiate legislation and to exercise public control over the observance of the working people’s legally guaranteed rights.
The Government closely cooperates with the trade unions. All important Bills related to working and living conditions are jointly discussed and adopted only in agreement with them. The big social and welfare programme launched in July 1972 was based on a joint decision by the workers’ party, the trade unions and the Government. Suggestions and proposals submitted by the trade unions for the annual economic plans are carefully studied by the Council of Ministers and incorporated in the plan.
Especially after the Eighth Congress of the SED a new and higher quality has been attained in the cooperation of the socialist organs of government and the trade unions. Full consensus on the objective in mind- the growing satisfaction of people’s material and cultural needs- does not exclude discussions on the methods to be employed and a different approach to individual problems.
Who makes the laws and for whom?
In whose interests laws are drafted and enacted in a country greatly depends on the social composition of Parliament.
In the People’s Chamber, the GDR’s supreme law-making body, workers make up 43.8 percent of all P.P’s cooperative farmers 15.4 percent, salaried employees 20.4 percent and members of the intelligentsia 20.2 percent. It is easy to imagine that such a Parliament does not adopt legislation ultimately directed against the working population. There are neither lobbyism and corruption nor agreements concluded by companies with individual M.P’s to secure influence in Parliament.
Represented in the People’s Chamber are all political and public organizations united in the National Front of the GDR with the aim of building a socialist society and made up of people from all working sections of the population. The SED, the party of the working class, comes first with 127 deputies. Next comes from the Confederation of Free German Trade Unions (FDGB) with 68. The four other parties in the Democratic Bloc, the Democratic Farmers’ Party (DBD), the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPD) and the National Democratic Party (NDPD) each have 53 M.P.s. The youth organization (FDJ), the women’s organization (DFD) and the League of Culture are represented by 40, 35 and 22 deputies, respectively.
In the GDR it is now the standard practice to submit important Bills to the whole population for public discussion. Cases in point were the Labor Code, the Family Code, the Socialist Constitution and the Local Government Act. In each instance many thousand constructive ideas and proposals for amendment were made, which were then reconsidered, examined and incorporated into the final version of the Bill. The same was true of the new Youth Act whose draft was discussed in the course of seven months with more than 5. million citizens of all age groups taking part. 4,821 proposals were submitted with the result that about 200 revisions were made before the Bill was passed into law. In this way workers, farmers and intellectuals help shape socialist legal conditions in a very direct manner. Their influence on public affairs is not confined to the election of deputies.
Every individual law is in the interests of the working people and of social progress whether it relates to the introduction of 10-year general polytechnical schooling, the termination of unwanted pregnancy, large-scale social and welfare measures or a modern socialist criminal law doing away with provisions inherited from the age of Prussianism.”
(Source: https://ia800405.us.archive.org/11/items/HowDoPeopleLiveInTheGDR/How%20do%20people%20live%20in%20the%20GDR.pdf )