Abstracts 1/2019 english


Goderbauer, Sebastian and Marco Lübbecke: Reforming districts for Bundestag elections: support provided by mathematical optimization.

The current debate on an amendment to the electoral law for the German Bundestag also includes a possible reduction of the number of districts. On behalf of the Federal Election Commissioner, the authors computed possible apportionment of districts for the scenarios of 250, 200 and 125 districts. The application of mathematical optimization guarantees objectivity and transparency: all legal criteria are strictly adhered to and apportionment principles from law and regulations are fulfilled in the best possible way. No other condi- tions or restrictions were included, not a single legally possibility was excluded in advance. In addition to the results of the study, one can show that carelessly deciding on the number of districts can have considerable consequences and can even lead to numerical inadmissi- bility. Following the federal structure of Germany, it is emphasized that the most suitable numbers of districts are 248 and 145, for one- and two-person districts, respectively. The study presented here as well as all optimization-based computed apportionments can be studied in an interactive map on the Internet. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 1, pp. 3 – 21]

Klein, Markus, Frederik Springer, Lena Masch, Dieter Ohr and Ulrich Rosar: The formation of political judgement by the electorate in the runup to the 2017 German federal elections. An empirical analysis in the tradition of “The People’s Choice”.

Modern election research starts with the study “The People’s Choice” by Paul F. LazarsfeldBernard Berelson and Hazel Gaudet (1944). Almost 75 years after the publication of this canonical work, a study was carried out on the occasion of the 2017 German federal elec- tions, which took “The People’s Choice” as a model in many different respects. For in- stance, a multi-wave panel survey was conducted during the election campaign. Respondents who changed their voting intentions between two panel waves were again asked open-ended questions about the reasons behind this change. And finally in the course of data analysis, an attempt was made to transfer the types of change and the campaign effects differentiated by Lazarsfeld et al. to the 2017 federal elections in Germany. As a result, it can be seen that reinforcing a long-standing voting intention is still the most important election campaign effect today. In contrast, it is still rather rare that a voting intention is changed as a result of the election campaign. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 1, pp. 22 – 41]

Kintz, Melanie and Malte Cordes: Data on the occupational structure of the 19th German Bundestag.The 2017 election brought significant changes to the membership of the German Bundestag. The parliament became much larger (709 seats) and the entry of 291 new deputies marked a new turnover record. Also, for the first time since unification, the German Bundestag is a six-party parliament, and the right-wing populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) entered the assembly for the first time. Following up on previous publications on the Bundestag’s occupational structure this article investigates the impact these changes had using the category scheme established by Adalbert Hess. Newcomers brought in more free- lance professionals and business owners. Moreover, the presence of those previously employed by political parties or members of parliament increased, and occupational differences between MPs from east and west Germany persist, even among the younger members. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 1, pp. 42 – 58]

Rütters, Peter: Social profile of the AfDMembers in Germany’s national parliament (Bundestag): only limited suitable for parliament.

Just one year after its foundation in 2013, the far right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) succeeded in being represented in every German state parliament as well as in the European Parliament . In 2017, 94 AfD representatives were elected into the Bundestag, gaining roughly a 13 percent share of all MPs. The social profile of AfD MPs, especially their school and tertiary education as well as their professional qualifications do not differ much from those of the representatives of established parties in the Bundestag. But to meet the functional requirements of a working parliament, MPs need not only sufficient intellectual capabilities but also enough experience in political and parliamentary institutions. However, despite the fact that nearly half of its members had been members of other par- ties before joining the AfD, their representatives continue to lack political and/or parlia- mentary experience. It is disputable whether this lack can be compensated by a kind of training on the job while being a member of parliament. It might be that the AfD’s indif- ference towards the political agenda and strategies, their oscillation between parliamentary and “movement” orientation can partially be seen as result of this lack of parliamentary experiences. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 1, pp. 59 – 80]

Klein, Markus, Philipp Becker, Lisa Czeczinski, Yvonne Lüdecke, Bastian Schmidt and Frederik Springer: The social structure of the German party memberships. Empirical findings of the German Party Membership Studies 1998, 2009 and 2017.

Apart from gender and age, no other socio-structural characteristics of party members are reliably captured in the membership registers of the German parties . A differentiated analy- sis of the social anchoring of the German party system can therefore only be carried out on the basis of nationally representative surveys among the members of the most important parties . Such comprehensive party member studies were conducted in 1998, 2009 and 2017 . In each of these studies, members of the CDU, the CSU, the SPD, the FDP, the PDS, later named Die Linke and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen were interviewed. After a de- tailed description of the data collection of the German Party Membership Studies, the most important findings with regard to the socio-structural composition of party memberships are presented. In addition to a comparison of the party members as a whole with the gen- eral population, a comparison of the memberships of the various parties is also carried out. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 1, pp. 81 – 98]

Hobusch, Alexander: Neutrality as an obligation for (party) officials? Constitutional limits of influence in the process of a member vote.

In Germany political parties are bound by the democratic principles as stated in Art. 21 I 3 GG. Democratic principles are minimum requirements for the design of the internal party decision-making process. These minima include, among other things, a right to internal opposition, the freedom and equality of choice as well as a right to inner-party equal op- portunities, which the individual can hold against the party. This equal opportunity safe- guards the free will-building process inside the party, which must be taken into account in grassroots democratic procedures as well. Equal opportunities and the freedom of choice also lead to a duty of restraint on the part of the executive committee in internal competi- tion for functions and opinions when resorting to party resources. This duty becomes stronger the closer the inner-party election comes. In any case, voting documents and the cover letter must be factually and neutrally designed to prevent undue influence on the members. The electoral documents of the SPD member vote 2018 did not meet these re- quirements and therefore violated democratic principles. [ZParl, vol . 50 (2019), no. 1, pp. 99 – 113]

Wagner, Aiko: A new type? Germany’s changing party system from moderate to polarized pluralism.

Based on the seven criteria proposed by Giovanni Sartori, this article examines whether the German party system can be assigned to the type of polarized pluralism after the 2017 gen- eral election . The results show, first, that the AfD’s electorate holds above-average demo- cratic dysfunctional attitudes allowing a characterization as an anti-system party . Secondly, with the success of the AfD and the Left the government is now facing bilateral opposition . Thirdly, the Federal Republic once again is governed by a center coalition . Fourth, polariza- tion and intensity of party competition have increased. However, fifth, centrifugal com- petitive tendencies can hardly be confirmed and, six the electoral openness of the voters or the availability of their voices does not speak in favor of an ideological patterning or seg- mentation of the citizenry. Seventh, the (ongoing) exclusion from alternation in office of the AfD and the Left allows for a politics of outbidding and over-promising on the side of an opposition void of responsibility. Thus, the party system of the Federal Republic of Ger- many fulfills many criteria of polarized pluralism but has to be characterized as a mixed type. This trend towards a polarized pluralism is mainly driven by developments on the right side of the political spectrum. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 1, pp. 114 – 129]

Holzhauser, Thorsten: Erosion of the demarcation? A historical perspective on the relationship between the CDU and the Left Party.

Up to this day, German Christian Democrats have ruled out any cooperation with the Left Party, citing its alleged radicalism and extremism. Yet in recent months, leading members of the CDU have challenged this strategy, suggesting “pragmatism” and “normalization” between both parties . These recent debates are not completely new . They have their fore- runners in the 1990s when the CDU argued over how to deal with the PDS, the Left Party’s predecessor party, and at times even pursued a strategy of détente and rapprochement towards the PDS. These debates were characterized by structural, strategic and cultural differences between East and West: Whilst the CDU party leadership relied on the anti- extremism of its West German voters, many East German Christian Democrats tried to win over a post-socialist electorate that regarded the PDS as an ordinary democratic party . This difference of political cultures still exists and it may become even more relevant this year – not only in dealing with the Left Party but also with the right-wing AfD. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 1, pp. 130 – 148]


Jochem, Sven: Radical nationalist government policy. The Norwegian Progress Party.

Radical right-wing parties challenge the democratic and welfare status quo in Europe. Studying the Norwegian Progress Party shows that radical right-wing parties can successfully change the political status quo and programmatically influence other (bourgeois) parties. The potential for change in Norway, however, is restricted by the position and power of pivotal parties in minority parliamentarism. Therefore, keeping radical right-wing government goals in Norway at bay is not the result of political learning by the Progress Party but it is the result of institutional and strategic restrictions of government under minority parliamentarism. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 1, pp. 149 – 166]


Abels, Gabriele and Anne Cress: From the fight for women’s suffrage to parité: Political representation of women in the past and today.

 100 years ago, women in Germany received the right to vote and, hence, formally equal political citizenship with men . Looking at the historical and international dimension of the women’s suffrage movement shows that its fight was very committed as well as long-lasting-mated in theoretical terms. Applying a more differentiated and problematized concept of representation as used in gender studies in political science it becomes clear that some rep- resentational deficits have decreased, while others still exist. Whether the current debate over the need for a (French-style) parity law offers a way out of the democratic dilemma of multi-dimensional representational deficits is also discussed. [ZParl, vol . 50 (2019), no. 1, pp. 167 – 186]

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