East Germany’s first constitution, promulgated when the GDR was founded on 7 October 1949, differed little from that of the Weimar Republic and other ‘bourgeois democracies’. Yet pseudo-democracy is a defining characteristic of totalitarian regimes. It manifested itself in the first (delayed) elections to the GDR’s national, regional, local, and communal parliaments held on 15 October 1950. According to Communist propaganda, they were the most democratic ever held in Germany [84: 63]. In reality, they were uncompetitive in nature and the distribution of seats had been decided in advance. Voters were asked to endorse or reject single lists of candidates comprising members from all the political parties and mass organizations. The lists were drawn up by the Communist-controlled National Front. The proposed candidates could only be confirmed, not chosen at election meetings [122: 71]. Many bourgeois party nominees were Communist stooges. As for those from the mass organizations, most were allied to the SED, giving this party an absolute majority. Voters were expressly forbidden to reject some candidates on the lists and support others. Very few dared to vote ‘no’ to the lists in their entirety.
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