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Jonathan Olsen

Introduction The story of Die Linke (Left Party, or lp ) over the past thirty years can also be seen as the story of unified Germany. Neither fulfilling the inflated hopes of its supporters, nor the bleak prognoses of its detractors, the

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The Left Party and the AfD

Populist Competitors in Eastern Germany

Jonathan Olsen

far as to withdraw from exploratory talks with the Greens and cdu in November 2017. Barely registering on the postelection radar screen was the result for the Left Party ( lp ). Some of this undoubtedly had to do with the seeming ambiguity of its

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The Party without Qualities?

Explaining the Left Party's Electoral Disaster in the 2021 German Federal Election

Jonathan Olsen and Michael A. Hansen

Although the cdu / csu' s poor electoral performance was, for obvious reasons, the clear “bad news” story of the 2021 German federal election, the Left Party (Die Linke) arguably had the worst night. Not since 2002—when it was still the pds

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Catalysts for Change

Small Parties in the 2021 Bundestag Election

David F. Patton

Alliance 90/The Greens, the fdp , the Alternative for Germany (AfD), and the Left Party (Die Linke). No Small Matter In post-war West Germany, the large parties presented their smaller rivals as a source of political instability. Konrad Adenauer, a

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Dan Hough and Michael Koß

Despite its recent electoral successes, the Left Party's position in the German party system is more fragile that it may at first appear. The Left Party gained support in 2005 largely on account of dissatisfaction with other parties and not because masses of voters were flocking to its (nominally socialist) cause. Not even a majority from within its own supporter base thought it possessed "significant problem solving competences." Rather, much of the Left Party's political discourse is based on negative dismissals of much that it sees—in policy terms—before it. We discuss the Left Party's political development through the prism of populist politics. After outlining what we understand populism to mean, we analyze the Left Party's programmatic stances and political strategy within the context of this framework. Although populism is certainly not the sole preserve of the Left Party, it clearly excels in using populist tools to make political headway. We conclude by discussing the ramifications that this has for German party politics in general and for the Social Democratic Party in particular.

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Jonathan Olsen and Dan Hough

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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Kimmo Elo

In mainstream analyses of the German political system, the emergence of the Left Party (Die Linke) is presented as an unexpected consequence of German unification and as an indication of the existence of an East-West divide. This view is for the most part based on the idea that German unification is a process of political integration of the East into the West. Such an understanding, however, downplays the long-term developments in the German party system. This article examines the emergence of the Left Party in light of both the long-term developmental tendencies of the German party system and findings from comparative studies among other West European countries. The article concludes that the main reason for the current political stalemate is the incapability of the postwar Volksparteien to respond to changes in political space and action. Based on evidence from comparative studies, the article also suggests a pragmatic rethinking especially in the SPD is necessary in dealings with the Left Party.

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The Race for Third

Small Parties in the 2017 Bundestag Election

David F. Patton

“small” had narrowed. In 2013, the cdu / csu and spd had averaged 33.6, while the Left Party (die Linke), Free Democratic Party ( fdp ), and Greens had averaged 6.6 percent of the vote. Four years later, the catch-all parties had fallen to 26

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James L. Newell

In 2002, the opposition parties found themselves in a radically new

politico-strategic position as compared to the past. It was new in two

major ways. First, the previous year’s election outcome had represented

the further consolidation of a predominantly bi-polar dynamic

to party competition and had made it seem likely that the new government’s

stability would be greater than that of any other since

World War II. This presented a unique opportunity to the parties of

opposition, for typically in such circumstances, not only are governing

parties under pressure to carry through the policies on which they

have been elected, but the fortunes of each one of them individually

are closely bound to the success or failure of the government as a

whole. This means that they are vulnerable to opposition attack to a

degree that governing parties were not under the “First Republic,”

when at least the smaller parties were often able to avoid the electoral

consequences of unpopular measures, simply because of the

absence of any possibility of alternation.

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Divided We Stand

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

Lars Rensmann

Democratic Union ( cdu ) and Christian Social Union ( csu ) and the Social Democratic Party ( spd ), the market-liberal Free Democratic Party ( fdp ), the Alliance 90/the Greens, the Left Party, and, most recently, the radical right-wing populist AfD are now