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Linking Partisanship and Political Context: The Impact of Party System Characteristics on Individual Party Identification

Federalism
Political Sociology
Comparative Perspective
Electoral Behaviour
Nadine Meidert
Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen
Nadine Meidert
Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen
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Abstract

Partisanship is an important predictor for political attitudes and behavior in the United States. However, its application in other countries, especially those with multi-party systems, is highly contested since it is not clear which impact the political context during the phase of political socialization has on the development of an individual party identification. Drawing on social identity and socialization theory, I argue that not only the intermediate social context but also the political context influences the development of a party identification. To shed light on the relationship between party system characteristics and party identification, I look at the German Bundeslaender and use data from the German Longitudinal Election Study. I assume that the more heterogeneity of the party system individuals have perceived in their youth, the less likely is the existence of a party identification because it is more difficult to decide for and identify with a party. Thereby, heterogeneity is operationalized by the number of parties and volatility. To estimate the existence of party identification, logistic regression models are used.