Quality & Quantity

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 297–313 | Cite as

Ideological congruency, social group linkage or the best-evaluated party of all? Why partisans identify with a political party

  • Sabrina J. MayerEmail author


The concept of party identification is one of the most used indicators in election studies worldwide. However, not much is known about the meaning of party identification. This article explores why adherents identify with a political party. Based on existing notions of partisanship, a coding scheme is derived and an open-ended question from a large-N German survey is analyzed. By using Latent Class Analysis, seven meaning types of adherents are identified whose shares differ heavily by party. Most adherents base their identification either on ideological grounds or evaluative reasons, which has a meaningful impact on the parties’ possibilities for ideological change and partisan stability.


Party identification Latent Class Analysis Meaning Partisanship Adherents Germany 



Research funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Grant Az. The author is grateful to participants and discussants of this paper, mainly Achim Goerres and Martin Schultze as well as to Jakob Kemper, Anna Schley, Hans-Peter Schreiber and Rene Selbach for research assistance.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 25 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Political ScienceUniversity of Duisburg-EssenDuisburgGermany

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