Coalition Politics in Crisis?

The German Party System Before and After the 2017 Federal Election

in German Politics and Society
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  • 1 University of Bonn
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The 2017 federal election illustrated the transformation of Germany’s political party system with six parties managing to enter the Bundestag. With the Christian and Social Democrats finally coming to an agreement almost half a year after the election, a grand coalition is set to govern for two consecutive terms for the very first time. The Alternative for Germany’s success also signaled the definite parliamentary establishment of right-wing populism in Germany. Multiparty coalitions that bridge ideological gulfs as the political fringe has grown in size are a new reality that must be accommodated. The 2017 election and subsequent arduous negotiations point towards a period of uncertainty and further upheaval for Germany’s party system.

Contributor Notes

Frank Decker is a professor at the Institute for Political Science and Sociology, Rheinische-Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität in Bonn, Germany. His main research interests focus on problems of institutional reforms in Western democracies, party systems, and right-wing populism. Recent publications include Handbuch der deutschen Parteien, co-edited with Viola Neu (Wiesbaden, 2018), Europas Ende, Europas Anfang, co-edited with Jürgen Rüttgers (Frankfurt, 2017) and Der Irrweg der Volksgesetzgebung (Bonn, 2016). E-mail:

Philipp Adorf is a research assistant at the University of Bonn. His past research has focused on the transformation of the Republican Party since the 1960s, published as How the South was won and the nation lost (Bonn, 2016). More recently, his scholarly attention has turned to the success of right-wing populist actors among blue-collar voters that had previously supported center-left parties. E-mail: