By examining connections between recent federal and state elections in Germany, we evaluate whether German elections seem to be maintaining some interesting preunification patterns broadly reminiscent of American elections, even as the re-absorption of the East has made the German party system more chaotic. Regional partisan stability does persist and there is continuity by way of a robust 'moderating elections' phenomenon: all parties suffer in state polls when holding power nationally, the big parties quite substantially. The evidence for retrospective economic voting of late, though mixed, is actually stronger than was the comparable evidence for the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The larger goal is to begin to explore how one might develop a cross-national analysis of whether there are general patterns consistent with actors in parliamentary democracies exploiting multiple occasions to vote - as created by bicameralism, federalism, mixed proportional-plural electoral rules, and local government - systematically in an effort to rein in governments or fine-tune policy.
Published in Journal of theoretical politics (2004) v.16, p.289-319
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