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How party systems Form: The Institutional, Historical and Strategic Foundations of the Post-War ... - page 31 / 42





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a few list positions in return for its electoral support. This alliance boosted the FDP’s vote share in Hessen to 28%, much higher than in other states. It led to the election of the NDP’s party chairmen Heinrich Leuchtgens who, after the election, immediately left the FPD and founded the DRP. (Dittberner 1984, 1343; Schmidt 1984, 1898-99) In Niedersachsen, the DKP-DRP formed an electoral alliance with the “Gemeinschaft unabhängiger Deutscher” whose two leaders were elected. (Schmidt 1984, 1004-06) And in Bavaria, the WAV formed a joint list with a large refugee organization, helping to latter to elect six candidates.  (Stöss 1984, 1426; Woller 1984, 2460) All these alliances were temporary as the piggy backing candidates left their host party immediately after the election. The overall effect of the alliances was minimal; they were one-time events leading to the election of nine candidates who otherwise would not have made into the Bundestag.

Strategic Candidate Withdrawals: Strategic withdrawals across single member districts constituted a second and more important form of electoral coalition formation that were attractive to small and large parties alike. To the former, they provided an opportunity to clear the electoral threshold while, for the latter, they offered the possibility of rescuing small parties that were potential coalition partners. Kitzinger notes that “even the very smallest parties that might somehow slip into the Bundestag under one arrangement or another might tip the scales between an Adenauer and an Ollenhauer [leader of the SPD] government. Both large parties were therefore prepared to intrigue with very minor groups and with otherwise insignificant men so as to gain every ounce of extra strength they could muster for a struggle of which the outcome seemed so uncertain.” (1960, 38) What made strategic withdrawals feasible was Germany’s secondary electoral threshold which permitted parties to win seats if they won one and, after 1957, three single member districts. The secondary threshold was particularly attractive to smaller parties because they could win seats even if they failed to cross the primary 5% threshold. Smaller parties, however, stood little chance of winning SMD contests without larger parties withdrawing their candidates and instructing their voters to support the candidate of the small, allied party.

Party Switching3/12/2007p.

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