The Party System: Structure, Policy, and Europeanization

Oskar Niedermayer

in Germany, Europe, and the Politics of Constraint

Published by British Academy

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780197262955
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734465 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Party System: Structure, Policy, and Europeanization

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The German party system has changed since the 1980s. The relatively stable ‘two-and-a-half party’ system of the 1960s and 1970s has become a fluid five-party system. This development can generally be attributed to changes on the demand and supply sides of party competition and to the changing institutional framework. The European integration process is part of this institutional framework and this chapter deals with the question of whether it has influenced the development of the party system at the national level. To systematically analyse the possible impact, eight party-system properties are distinguished: format, fragmentation, asymmetry, volatility, polarization, legitimacy, segmentation, and coalition stability. The analysis shows that one cannot speak of a Europeanization of the German party system in the sense of a considerable impact of the European integration process on its development. Up to now, the inclusion of Germany in the systemic context of the EU has not led to noticeable changes of party-system properties. On the demand side of party competition, this is due to the fact that the EU issue does not influence the citizens' electoral decisions. On the supply side, the lack of Europeanization can be explained mainly by the traditional, interest-based pro-European élite consensus, the low potential for political mobilization around European integration, and the marginal role of ethnocentrist–authoritarian parties.

Keywords: German party system; European integration; political parties; Europeanization; party competition

Chapter.  7154 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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