Voters’ party preferences in multiparty systems and their coalitional and spatial implications: Germany after unification

  • Franz Urban Pappi
  • Gabriele Eckstein


How should party preferences of voters in a multiparty system be measured, compared and aggregated? We use city block metric of distances between the pairwise comparisons of the five German parties (1995 survey data for West and East Germany). Neither in West nor in East Germany, a party gains the absolute majority of voters’ preferences. We derive coalition preferences from the party rankings; the governing coalition of CDU/CSU and FDP is not the winner, compared with other feasible coalitions of the German party system. But the party rankings of the CDU/CSU-FDP coalition leaners are more homogeneous than other groups of coalition leaners. In the second part of the article, we analyze the common structure of all consistent party rankings. Do voters apply the same criteria to evaluate the political parties? Although only a slight majority of individual rankings fit the often used ideological left-right scale, there does not exist a competing one-dimensional order of the parties that would capture more voters. The joint scale of individual party rankings is interpreted as the collective order which facilitates political orientation of voters. This collective order is more pronounced in West than in East Germany where individuals are almost as consistent in their party rankings but where the rankings fit the collective order less well than in West Germany.


Party System Condorcet Winner Linear Profile Borda Count Heterogeneity Measure 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Franz Urban Pappi
    • 1
  • Gabriele Eckstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political Science IUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany

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