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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