Robert Rohrschneider, Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck, Franziska Jung
Short-term factors versus long-term values: Explaining the 2009 election results

Electoral Studies, 2012: 31, Heft 1, S. 20–34

This paper examines the way three types of factors influence eastern and western German voters in order to assess the similarities and differences in electoral behavior across the former East-West divide. First, to what extend does the performance of parties and the regime influence party support in the East and the West? Second, how do candidate perceptions affect party support? Third, to what degree do ideological values influence vote choice? The results suggest that even 20 years after unification, voters in the East and the West still follow a partially different logic. While candidate evaluations broadly influence party support similarly, negative performance assessments lead west German voters to support the opposition, whereas eastern Germans tend to either “exit” the electoral arena or support the Linke party. Moreover, ideological values have no affect on party choice in the West, whereas they strongly influence the choice of Die Linke in the East. Theoretically, the results reflect the different East-West experiences, illustrating that voters in newer democracies may base their party choice on a different rationale than voters in more mature democracies.