Simon Ellerbrock
Partisan Agreement and Disagreement in Voters' Discussant Networks: Contextual Constraints and Partisan Selectivity in a Changing Electorate

S. 143-164 in: Rüdier Schmitt-Beck, Sigrid Roßteutscher, Harald Schoen, Bernhard Weßels, Christof Wolf (Hrsg.): The Changing German Voter. 2022. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Against the backdrop of increasing electoral fragmentation and the emergence of the right-wing populist AfD, this chapter analyzes political discussions across party lines among voters at the 2009, 2013, and 2017 German federal elections. Using a framework of “choice-within-constraints,” it examines voters’ experiences of partisan disagreement in political conversations as a result of the availability of like-minded individuals in voters’ socio-spatial contexts and the deliberate choice exercised by voters when constructing their discussant networks. Combining three modules of the GLES from 2009, 2013, and 2017 with official election results at the level of electoral districts, the analyses reveal that rising fragmentation in regional contexts increased the probability of discussions among supporters of different parties. At the same time, voters showed an increasing tendency to select like-minded discussants over voters of other parties, with AfD supporters in 2017—more than those of any other party—avoiding political discussions across party lines.