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difference, for example, led in 1956 to the defection of 16 FDP deputies who formed the shortlived FVP before joining the DP. (Dittberner 1984, 1324-26) These 16 defectors also also explain why the percentage of minor party switchers was so much lower during the 1953-57 electoral cycle.

Table 5: Post-war German Party Switching

1949-53

1953-57

1957-61

% of Deputies Switching

14.2% (n: 57)

7.6% (n: 37)

4.3% (n: 21)

% of Switches Involving Minor Parties

93.2%

66.7%

85.7%

Source: (Schindler 1984, 237-54)

What then were the re-affiliation preferences of the deputies defecting from minor parties ? The answer to this question is key for understanding how switching affected the consolidation of the German party system. German deputies had different switching options (e.g. hopping among existing parties, fusions and fissions) and could re-affiliate between parties of very different sizes and ideological orientations. Among the possible choices, Table 6 highlights the two which pooled seats the most and, thus, were most likely to induce strategic voting. These choices were minor party deputies switching to either the CDU/CSU, SPD or FDP, or merging with other minor party candidates. Row 3 lumps the remaining switching strategies under “Others”. This category includes fissions, hopping from major to minor parties or lateral hopping among small parties or even large parties. Such strategies would dilute seat concentration, reduce parties’ electoral viability and thus led to strategic defections. Table 6 reports individual switches rather than individual switchers; it therefore reflects multiple switches of deputies who changed their party affiliations several times during a legislative period.

Table 6: Types of Party Switches

1949-53

1953-57

1957-61

1) Hopping to CDU or FDP

10 (9.7%)

17 (23.6%)

15 (71.4%)

2) Fusion among Minor Parties*

27 (26.2%)

17 (23.6%)

0

3) Other

66 (64.1%)

38 (52.7%)

6 (28.6%)

* Minor party candidates defined as all candidates not belonging to CDU/CSU, FPD, or KPD

Source: (Schindler 1984, 237-54)

Party Switching3/12/2007p.

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