In this paper, we examine the changing bases of support for the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), the former ruling Communist party of East Germany that has emerged as a consistent force in united Germany's party system. We draw on theories positing a dynamic relationship between individuals and their social environment to hypothesize about the changing effects of factors for PDS support over time and test our assertions using survey data from the 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004 German Social Survey (ALLBUS). The dynamic influence of four factors identified as instrumental to the PDS' electoral success among eastern Germans-being a "loser of unification", economic and political evaluations, eastern German identity, and ideology-are examined. Our findings indicate that ideology is consistently the strongest indicator of PDS support in all years while the effects of sociotropic economic and political evaluations start strong but diminish over time. Contrary to many expectations, PDS supporters are neither the losers of unification nor do they exhibit a stronger eastern identity than other eastern Germans. We discuss the implications of these findings for the future of the PDS, especially given its recent merger in 2005, and for understanding the electoral support of other post-communist parties in Eastern Europe.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Political Science and International Relations