It was recognised by the Soviet military administration, the SMAD, on 16 August 1948 and later sent 52 delegates to the East German parliament, the Volkskammer, as part of the National Front. None of these ever voted against the government on any issue, leading to suggestions that it was a puppet of the ruling party, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. Nonetheless, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it became an independent agent in politics.
Its programme demanded, among other things, the promotion of the middle class and an end to discrimination against former members of the Nazi Party. It was organised on democratic centralist grounds and had 110,000 members in the late 1980s.