Matthias Mader, Maria Pesthy, Harald Schoen
Conceptions of national identity, turnout and party preference: Evidence from Germany

Nations and Nationalism, 2021: 27, Heft 3, S. 638-655
ISSN: 1354-5078 (print), 1469-8129 (online)

As globalisation makes national boundaries both permeable and contested, conflicts over national identity and related policy issues are bound to increase the salience of citizens' individual national identitiesand, consequently, increase their impact on political attitudes and behaviour. We study the link between ethnocultural and civic dimensions of national identity and turnout and party preferences. After providing a theoretical discussion that integrates conceptions of national identity into established models of turnout and party preference formation, we explore the merit of accounting for these conceptions of national identity in a case study of Germany. Analysing data from two surveys conducted in the period between 2015 and 2017, we show that acceptance of civic criteria of national identity was positively associated with turnout and partisan support for all German parties besides the AfD. Acceptance of ethnocultural criteria was associated with increased support for (centre‐) right and decreased support for (centre‐) left parties. Some of these patterns differ significantly and in predictable ways between the two data points bracketing the height of the European refugee crisis. These findings suggest that individual conceptions of national identity may be of importance for our understanding turnout decisions and party preferences, but the specific relationships presumably depend on contextual conditions.