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Russell J. Dalton

Free elections are celebrations of the democratic process, and the

Germans celebrated in an unprecedented way on September 27,

1998. After sixteen years of Christian Democratic rule, the public

used its democratic power to change the government. Indeed, for the

first time in the history of the Federal Republic, voters rejected a sitting

chancellor and chose a new government through the ballot box.

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Russell J. Dalton and Willy Jou

Few aspects of politics have been as variable as partisan politics in the two decades since German unification. In the East, citizens had to learn about democratic electoral politics and the party system from an almost completely fresh start. In the West, voters experienced a changing partisan landscape and the shifting policy positions of the established parties as they confronted the challenges of unification. This article raises the question of whether there is one party system or two in the Federal Republic. We first describe the voting results since 1990, and examine the evolving links between social milieu and the parties. Then we consider whether citizens are developing affective party ties that reflect the institutionalization of a party system and voter choice. Although there are broad similarities between electoral politics in West and East, the differences have not substantially narrowed in the past two decades.

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Russell J. Dalton and Wilhelm Bürklin

The 2002 Bundestag elections demonstrate the emerging new style

of German electoral politics. Where once party competition was

built upon a stable base of Stammwähler, the catchword for 2002 was

the Wechselwähler—the changing voter. The traditional bonds to social

groups, such as class and religion, have steadily eroded across Bundestag

elections in the late twentieth century, and these bonds had a

diminished impact in 2002. Similarly, this chapter will demonstrate

that affective psychological ties that once connected citizens to their

preferred party have also weakened. Certainly some German voters

remain connected to a social milieu or a habitual party tie, but the

number of these voters is steadily decreasing.

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Klaus Berghahn, Russell Dalton, Jason Verber, Robert Tobin, Beverly Crawford, and Jeffrey Luppes