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Ofer Kenig, Michael Philippov and Gideon Rahat

Party membership is in decline in Israel. This article analyzes the main characteristics of party members in three of the largest parties in Israel: Kadima, Likud, and Labor. Party members in Israel share similar features with party members in other countries: they are older, economically better off than the average voter, they are more highly educated than an average voter, and they are more likely to be male than female. This comparison between the members population and the voters population also demonstrates that Arabs are over-represented in Kadima and Labor while religious people are over-represented in Kadima and especially Likud. Most party members claim that ideological motivations led them to join a particular party, yet they suspect that the other members are motivated by more instrumental reasons. They expect the party to act cohesively but at the same time clearly support deeper intraparty democratization. They are also rather passive, hardly engaging in party activities.

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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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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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Caterina Paolucci

The success of the Five Star Movement, with its anti-political and populist challenge to the establishment, did not lead to multipolar competition. Rather, it furthered a moderate bipolar party system dynamic between the center-left and center-right. Although it lost millions of votes, the center-right fared relatively well, allowing Silvio Berlusconi to regain a relevant position in the party-political game. Although stripped of his seat and expelled from the Chamber following a tax fraud conviction, Berlusconi realized, thanks also to the election of centrist Matteo Renzi as the new secretary of the Democratic Party (PD), that it would suit him better to moderate his claims. This new development may lead to an unexpected alliance between the PD and Berlusconi's revived personal party, Forza Italia, and may perhaps result in regaining the electorate lost to the M5S.

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John Leslie

This article examines the impact of organizational structure on party behavior in the context of Franz Müntefering's resignation as SPD Chairman in late 2005. Conceptually, it argues that party organizations embed institutionalized rules that govern internal hierarchies and shape party decision making. Because party organizations are created under different circumstances, the rules governing their internal hierarchies and decision-making behavior may vary. This analysis suggests why such differences can persist for decades even when they produce such unintended-and undesirable-consequences as the embarrassing resignation of a popular chairman in the middle of a coalition negotiation.

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David F. Patton

In the 2009 German federal election, the small parties together captured 43.2 percent of the vote; three small parties boasted a result in the double digits. Four years later, none of the small parties finished above 8.6 percent and only two reentered the Bundestag. Notably, the FDP, one of the original West German parties, dropped out of the federal parliament for the first time. Yet, any talk of catch-all party revival and party system concentration needs qualification. As a group, the small parties received nearly a third of all votes cast—the second highest share in six decades. Those that did not make it into the Bundestag won 15.7 percent, a higher share than in any other federal election. This article examines the positioning of the leading small parties in the 2013 Bundestag election campaign and their respective electoral results; highlights party systemic as well as internal party factors to explain small party performance; reassesses the commonplace classification of small parties by whether there is an established legislative presence or not; and considers the positioning and performance of small parties in the years to come.

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Katharina Hanel and Stefan Marschall

Facing linkage problems, parties in Germany have started to respond to a changing media environment by reforming their internal structures of opinion forming and decision making, inter alia reacting to the rise of the social web and the successes of the Pirate Party whose party organization is to a large extent “digitalized”. Whether and how established parties implement and adapt Internet tools, i.e., whether these could contribute to more participation of the “party on the ground” or whether they strengthen the “party in central office” is the focus of this article. The case study on the employment of an online platform for drafting a motion for the party convention of the German Social Democrats in December 2011 reveals that the “party in central office” controlled the online procedure as well as the processing of the results to a remarkable extent—thereby constraining the participatory potential of the tool. At the same time, the case study indicates a quality of online collaboration platforms that might limit the instrumentalization of these tools by the party elites in the long run and possibly re-empower the “party on the ground.”

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Louise K. Davidson-Schmich

In Germany, the Bundestag and the Landtage (state parliaments) in the old Länder (states) have such consistently high levels of party discipline that there is not enough variance to determine the cause of this behavior. The creation of five new democratic state legislatures after the fall of the German Democratic Republic, however, provides a unique opportunity to investigate the origins of party voting. I test which of three hypothesized institutional mechanisms for this practice—the need to keep an executive in office, efficiency incentives, or electoral concerns—was primarily responsible for the emergence of party discipline in the new Länder. The evidence indicates that the need to support the executive branch is the primary cause of party voting. This finding helps explain both the unexpected rise of western German-style party discipline in the eastern states following unification, well as the persistence of the seemingly outdated practice of party discipline in contemporary Germany as a whole.

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Mattia Guidi

The rise of Matteo Renzi is one of the most significant political events of the year. This chapter analyzes Renzi's leadership of the Partito Democratico (PD), looking at both the internal politics of the party and the party's position within the Italian party system. Within the PD itself, Renzi has brought take-it-or-leave-it proposals to the party executive, which has upset a vocal minority. More broadly, Renzi has moved the party to the center on the left-right scale, while adopting a more expansionary fiscal stance, effectively marginalizing other parties. The chapter concludes that the most serious opposition to Renzi today may come from within his own party.

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After the Party

Trump, Le Pen, and the New Normal

Anne Sa'adah

Donald Trump’s surprise victory and the National Front’s steady electoral gains are not the simple product of globalization and its discontents, nor are they a direct continuation of earlier populist movements in the US and France. Rather, both rest in significant degree on transformative political projects undertaken in recent decades to recast partisan politics in each country. Newt Gingrich adopted a radical strategy in order to break Democratic dominance in Congress, destroying norms of parliamentary conduct, pushing the Republican Party to the right, and roiling the party’s base. Bruno Mégret sought to position the National Front— through a dédiabolisation of its public image, an increase in its institutional capacity, attention to local politics, and opportunistic alliances—in such a way as to allow it to supplant the traditional conservative parties. These strategies changed the political landscape in the US and France. The results are likely to be durable.