The struggle for Europe
The Saar statute in the Paris Accords was ratified by both the French and German Parliaments. It only needed the final consent of the local population, which was initially asked on 23 October 1955 to decide on membership of Europe in a referendum.
To ensure that all points of view were represented, the ban on pro-German parties, the liberal Democratic Party of the Saar (DPS), the Social Democratic DSP and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), was lifted three months before the referendum. Their negative attitude to the European statute supported by the government triggered a dramatic electoral struggle that divided society and strongly politicised public life. Even those opposed to the statute were essentially in favour of a united Europe. But they wanted to be ‘Germans’ first and only secondly ‘Europeans’. Two thirds of voters shared that view and voted against the statute. From 1955 onwards, alternatives to a ‘Europe of nations’ were given very little serious consideration in the European integration process.