Plus ça Change?

Julia Partheymüller, Richard Johnston

Over the past decades, the political landscape in Germany has undergone a fundamental transformation: Loyal partisans have become fewer whereas the number of parties and electoral volatility have grown. Paradoxically, election outcomes have remained highly predictable, which raises the question of how the dynamics of voting have changed. To address this puzzle, the chapter proposes a four-way decomposition of the voting function and analyzes the dynamics of different components at four elections using rolling cross-section survey data. The results show that despite partisan dealignment, the fundamental logic of election campaigns as re-equilibrating forces has remained in place. Yet, the analyses also identify several sources of electoral flux. These include, in particular, the fluctuating strength of small parties and coalition expectations. This suggests that with weakened links between citizens and parties, campaigns increasingly manifest themselves as a game of strategy in which seemingly small changes can make a big difference.

Department of Government
External organisation(s)
Swansea University
Publication date
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
504007 Empirical social research
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