GERMANY, East and West, is now going through a swing in mood after the euphoria of the past year. The East Germans, struggling with the unfamiliar realities of a market economy, have suddenly understood that they face a future as the poor and dependent provinces of the new country. West Germans, for their part, are beginning to realize that their warm and generous offers of support are going to cost a great deal more than they had thought.

As unification gets closer, the parties have begun maneuvering fiercely for advantage in the crucial first all-German election. A week ago the Christian Democrats, in power in both governments, tried to move the date up from December to October.

During the past year the timetable for unification has been repeatedly accelerated by the warnings of imminent collapse in the East German economy. Unemployment is now rising rapidly, and the two governments said that they wanted once again to speed up the schedule for the election and the completion of unification. That, they argued, would reassure the western investors on whom they are counting to generate new jobs for the people now being laid off by the failing enterprises of the vanished Communist regime. Untrue and unfair, cried the opposition. It charged that the West German chancellor, Helmut Kohl, only wanted to get the elections over before his constituents fully realized the speed at which the costs of unification are mounting. Changing the election date would have required a two-thirds vote in the Bundestag, and Mr. Kohl has now dropped the idea. It was his first significant defeat in the immensely intricate process of creating one Germany.

Until now, progress toward unification has proceeded with such speed and support that it's been easy to overlook the enormous questions of public policy that have to be resolved. The Germans are joining two populations that have lived under dramatically different circumstances for 45 years and who are only now coming to realize the depth of the differences between them. It's remarkable that there haven't been more serious disputes over the terms of unification, and that the current quarreling is now nothing more than the normal jostling among competing parties. It remains all but certain that the country will be united, legally and finally, under a newly elected government, before Christmas -- a prospect that was unimaginable a year ago. But the past week's scufflings are a sign of rising awareness among Germans that their new state is going to bring deep, and expensive, changes to both of its halves.