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How party systems Form: The Institutional, Historical and Strategic Foundations of the Post-War German Party System1

Marcus Kreuzer

Associate Professor

Department of Political Science

Villanova University

Villanova, PA 19085

Markus.Kreuzer@villanova.edu

Abstract: The formation of new party systems involves very different dynamics from the transformation of established party systems in that politicians do not just try to win votes but also employ a wide range of coordination strategies to makes votes count for efficiently. These strategies include legal restrictions on party formations, changes in electoral vote counting procedures, pooling of seats through party switching and various electoral coalition arrangements. The paper shows how such strategies affect the coordination choices of voters and in doing so shaped the formation of Germany’s postwar party system.

1 I would like to thank Eric Magar, Scott Mainwaring, John Schieman for their helpful comments. Konstantin Gunchev provided fabulous research assistance.

German Party Switching3/12/2007p. 1

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