The PDS and the Concept of the Catch-all Party

in German Politics and Society
Author: Daniel Hough
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In the years since unification, Germany’s political parties have faced

a number of formidable challenges. They range from incorporating

the citizens of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) into the Federal

Republic’s political processes, reassessing Germany’s role in the

wider world, overcoming gridlock on many pressing policy questions

at home (perhaps best understood as the overcoming of the Reformstau),

to finding a way out of Germany’s much maligned economic

malaise.1 Such challenges have had a not inconsiderable effect on the

German party system, the end product of which has been that this

system, once a bastion of cast-iron stability, has become characterized

by diversity and genuine electoral competition in a way that it has

not been since the late 1950s. Therefore, the electoral position of the

much-vaunted Volksparteien, if perhaps not their control of the political

process, has slipped considerably.