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Germany, Europe, and the Politics of Constraint$
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Kenneth Dyson and Klaus Goetz

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780197262955

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197262955.001.0001

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The Party System: Structure, Policy, and Europeanization

The Party System: Structure, Policy, and Europeanization

(p.128) (p.129) 7 The Party System: Structure, Policy, and Europeanization
Germany, Europe, and the Politics of Constraint

Oskar Niedermayer

British Academy

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

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