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The German party system(s) in 2005: A return to Volkspartei dominance

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Disciplines
  • Law

Abstract

The article assesses the socio-structural underpinnings and systemic dynamics of the contemporary German party system and identifies four phenomena: an increased level of fractionalisation that has made it more difficult for small parties to assume the ?kingmaker? or ?pivot? role; the continued strengthening of a two-bloc dynamic; the emergence and persistence of the new territorial cleavage in the united Germany; and, a skew in the party system to the left that has shifted the position of the median legislator. It is argued that all these changes have served to re-assert the dominance of the two Volksparteien and have been particularly advantageous to the SPD. The article concludes by arguing that the outcome of the 2005 federal election can thus be seen as very much in keeping with these trends.

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