Party Decline in the Parties State? The Changing Environment of German Politics

Susan E. Scarrow

in Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780199240562
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600296 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

 Party Decline in the Parties State? The Changing Environment of German Politics

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The 1949 (West) German Basic Law established a system of party‐based democracy that has now endured for more than half a century, yet today's political system is not identical to that of earlier years. Since the beginning of the 1980s, new party alternatives have made coalition politics harder to manage, the established parties have lost votes and members, and waning public support for all the parties has drawn unfavourab1e attention to the parties’ entrenched positions. These changes grew more pronounced in the 1990s, exacerbated, though not caused, by German unification, and developments reached a new stage in 1998, when one of the new parties of the 1980s, the Greens, became a party of government—an event made possible at least as much by the transformation of the Green Party itself as by a revolution in German politics. Nevertheless, despite the recent challenges to traditional political patterns, Germany remains very much a parties state, with parties still serving as the central mechanisms for political linkage and political decision‐making, and the same big parties being the principal players in state and federal coalition politics. The introductory sections discuss German parties and political institutions; the next three sections cover the same topics as the other country case studies in the book, and examine party legitimacy, party organizational strength (finance, staffing, members, mass media, parties in eastern Germany), and party functionality (in governance, interest articulation and aggregation, political participation, political recruitment and patronage, and political communication and education).

Keywords: case studies; coalition politics; eastern Germany; German unification; Germany; governance; interest aggregation; interest articulation; mass media; party finance; party functionality; party legitimacy; party members; party organization; party performance; party staffing; party system; political communication; political education; political institutions; political participation; political parties; political patronage; political recruitment; political system

Chapter.  13759 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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