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A Crisis of the Party System? — An Assessment

  • Herbert Döring

Abstract

German political parties have hitherto been remarkably able to absorb protest movements on the Right and Left of the political spectrum. In recent years, however, there have appeared signs of a growing uneasiness with established parties and their ways. Intra-party conflict is increasing, or has at least become more visible than it was allowable in the past; so has intra-party dissent by backbench members of parliament.1 We have also witnessed a dramatic surge in the number of single-issue movements such as citizens’ initiative groups.2 Public opinion surveys show a steep decline in the sympathy ratings of parties from a peak reached between 1969 and 1971 to a record low after 1974.3 These findings seem to point to a widespread Parteiverdrossenheit, a grumbling disillusionment with party performance. Moreover, an increasing number of people, especially the young, think it right to engage in unconventional political behaviour such as lawful demonstrations, rent strikes, occupying buildings and blocking traffic, rather than just to participate in elections.4 Over and above this, new fringe groups such as the environmental ‘green’ groups have sprung up to compete with the parties in the electoral arena.5

Keywords

Middle Class Political Culture Liberal Democracy Party System Party Leader 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
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© Herbert Döring and Gordon Smith 1982

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  • Herbert Döring

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