Or Tuttnauer
Government-opposition relations in the German state legislatures and citizens’ attitudes

8th Conference of the Standing Group on Parliaments (ECPR), Vienna, 06. bis 08. Juli 2023

The rise of radical and populist parties, evident in recent years in electoral outcomes in various countries, is a hotly debated subject in contemporary political science. Some link this trend to insufficient animosity and lack of competition between government and opposition, leading to dissatisfaction among citizens with the choices presented to them by the parties and, therefore, with the democratic institutions in general. In this paper, I leverage a dataset of governmentopposition relations, manifested in parliamentary votes, from the 16 German state legislatures between 1993 and 2011, combined with matching electoral surveys, including data on respondents’ satisfaction with the governing and opposition parties. Focusing on the German subnational level supplies enough observations with ample variation in the dependent and independent variables while ensuring other important factors, such as economic performance and political norms, are comparable across the studied cases. The main finding is that higher government-opposition contrast in parliamentary votes is associated with higher satisfaction with both the governing and the opposition parties. The paper contributes both to the study of legislative behaviour and to that of satisfaction with democracy, highlighting the importance not only of the governing parties' performance but of all represented parties, including the opposition.