I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Eckhard Jesse

The Melting Centre

The electoral decline of the large parties has been accompanied by a massive fall in party membership. Since the early 1990s the SPD has lost over 400,000 members and the CDU nearly 300,000. They have also become less attractive to younger people and this has led to a marked aging of party structures. Almost 50 per cent of the membership of both the CDU and SPD is now over sixty.