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Political Parties

Saalfeld, Thomas (2005) Political Parties. In: Green, Simon F. and Paterson, William E., eds. Governance in Contemporary Germany: The Semisovereign State Revisited. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 46-77. ISBN 0-521-84881-4. (doi:10.2277/0521848814) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:1414)

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This chapter seeks to map and analyse continuities and change of relevant structural attributes of the German party system and to assess whether changes in the party system since the second half of the 1980s have compounded the tendency to incremental policy change observed by Katzenstein in his classical study of 1987 or whether, alternatively, important traditional characteristics of the German party system, considered to be an asset until the 1980s, have persisted but come to be seen as a liability since. Based on Tsebelis’ (2002) veto-players’ model as an organising framework, it is found that the fundamentals of the Federal Republic’s party system and ‘grand-coalition structures’ have remained remarkably stable. The interpenetration of federalism and party government have continued to exacerbate the tendency of the German policy process towards incrementalism. Nevertheless, the contribution also highlights one element of Tsebelis’ (2002) veto-players’ framework that is often neglected: the cohesiveness of partisan veto players. Although the federal governments have usually not been able to ‘control’ a majority in the Bundesrat since unification in 1990, the Bundesrat majority has been far from cohesive, thus allowing some scope for policy change. One of the main differences between the argument advanced in this chapter and Tsebelis’ argument is, however, that the ‘electoral connection’ is–in addition to the structural attributes of the political system–crucial for an understanding of the persistence of status-quo policies in German politics.

Item Type: Book section
DOI/Identification number: 10.2277/0521848814
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions and public administration (Europe)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Alison Webster
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2007 18:55 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 09:40 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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