Laron K. Williams, Mary Stegmaier, Marc Debus
Relaxing the Constant Economic Vote Restriction: Economic Evaluations and Party Support in Germany

Party Politics, 2017: 23, Heft 3, S. 286-296
ISSN: 1354-0688 (print); 1460-3683 (online)

The popularity function literature has traditionally focused on incumbent government support, even under coalition governments. Here, we shift the focus from the government to the parties. To what extent are German parties held accountable for economic conditions when they hold the Chancellorship, serve in coalition, or sit in opposition? Using Seemingly Unrelated Regression to relax the Constant Economic Vote Restriction, we simultaneously model separate monthly party support functions for the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU), Social Democrats (SPD), Liberals (FDP), and Greens over the post-unification period. After controlling for temporal dynamics and political factors, we find that economic evaluations have the strongest effect on support for the SPD and CDU/CSU when they hold the Chancellorship, and both of these parties are strongly affected when in opposition. The FDP remains insulated from economic perceptions, despite the party’s emphasis on economic policy. Additionally, economic evaluations do not significantly change support for the Greens as an issue party.