Protest Voting in Eastern Germany

Continuity and Change Across Three Decades

in German Politics and Society
David F. Patton Connecticut College

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In 1989-1990, peaceful protests shook the German Democratic Republic (gdr), ushered in unification, and provided a powerful narrative of people power that would shape protest movements for decades to come. This article surveys eastern German protest across three decades, exploring the interplay of protest voting, demonstrations, and protest parties since the Wende. It finds that protest voting in the east has had a significant political impact, benefiting and shaping parties on both the left and the right of the party spectrum. To understand this potential, it examines how economic and political factors, although changing, have continued to provide favorable conditions for political protest in the east. At particular junctures, waves of protest occurred in each of the three decades after unification, shaping the party landscape in Germany.

Contributor Notes

David F. Patton, who is the Joanne Toor Cummings ‘50 Professor of Government and International Relations at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, teaches classes on European politics. Patton has published books and articles on German foreign policy, political regionalism, and German party politics.

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