• Martin Elff
Part of the Asia Today book series (ASIAT)


The party system of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) that emerged after its reconstitution in 1949 after the trauma of the Nazi regime and World War II bore only little resemblance with its predecessor. While the Weimar Republic had known many parties and fragile coalitions the party system of the newly established democracy has been characterized by simplicity and stability. After a short phase of consolidation in the 1950s, in which many smaller parties were absorbed by the larger parties of Christian democracy and Social democracy, the political landscape was characterized by a relatively stable “two-and-a half” party system until the early 1980s. There were two larger parties, the so-called Volksparteien (the people’s parties), the Social Democratic Party (SPD) on the Left of the Center, and the Christian parties (CDU/CSU) on the Right, with the much smaller Free Democratic Party (FDP) in between. Although formally the CDU and CSU were different organizations, on the federal level they acted as a single political force, because the CSU restricted itself to the state of Bavaria, while the CDU as its larger “sister” competed for votes in all other states of the FRG. The situation was only moderately changed by the entry of the Greens into the federal parliament.


Vote Share Grand Coalition Party System German Democratic Republic Federal Election 
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    Some preliminary evidence for this can be found in Martin Elff, “Disenchanted Workers, Selective Abstention and the Electoral Defeat of Social Democracy in Germany,” paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington DC, September 2–5, 2010.Google Scholar
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© Takashi Inoguchi and Jean Blondel 2012

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  • Martin Elff

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