Divided We Stand

An Analysis of the Enduring Political East-West Divide in Germany Thirty Years After the Wall's Fall

in German Politics and Society
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Groningen
Restricted access

Germany continues to face an inter-regional political divide between the East and the West three decades after unification. Most strikingly, this divide is expressed in different party systems. The right-wing populist Alternative for Germany and the left-wing populist Left Party are considerably more successful in the eastern regions, while German centrist parties perform worse (and shrink faster at the ballot-box) than in the West. The article discusses empirical evidence of this resilient yet puzzling political divide and explores three main clusters of explanatory factors: The after-effects of the German Democratic Republic’s authoritarian past and its politico-cultural legacies, translating into distinct value cleavage configurations alongside significantly weaker institutional trust and more wide-spread skepticism towards democracy in the East; continuous, even if partly reduced inter-regional socioeconomic divisions and varying economic, social and political opportunities; and populist parties and movements acting as political entrepreneurs who construct and politically reinforce the East-West divide. It is argued that only the combination of these factors helps understand the depth and origins of the lasting divide.

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 210 210 32
Full Text Views 43 43 5
PDF Downloads 63 63 7