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Don't Think Twice, It's Alright: SPD-Left Party/PDS Coalitions in the Eastern German Länder

Jonathan Olsen and Dan Hough

Keywords: LEFT PARTY/PDS; SPD; COALITION FORMATION; COALITION MAINTENANCE; FEDERALISM; SUBNATIONAL POLITICS; MECKLENBURG-WESTERN POMERANIA; BERLIN; BRANDENBURG

This article analyses the development of Left Party/PDS-SPD coalitions in the eastern German Länder. It develops an explanatory framework based on attempts to understand how red-green coalitions came into being in the 1990s. The article concludes that red-red coalitions emerge when four basic criteria are fulfilled: the SPD has few other viable potential coalition options and believes it can gain in strategic terms; the ideological distance between the Left Party/PDS and SPD is small; and the personal relationships between Land-level leaders are good. The paper also argues that the heterogeneity of the Left Party/PDS is likely to ensure that Land-specific solutions to Land-specific coalition dilemmas are very likely to remain of significance in the future.

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