Electoral Politics at the Local Level in the German Federal Republic

Electoral Politics at the Local Level in the German Federal Republic

Electoral Politics at the Local Level in the German Federal Republic

Electoral Politics at the Local Level in the German Federal Republic

Excerpt

IN THE preceding chapters, those aspects of the German political system and culture most directly related to electoral politics at the local level of government were considered. The major characteristics of the two foci of this study, the party system and the Gemeinde , were presented. However, to assess in depth how votes are structured at the local level, an investigator needs longitudinal and cross-sectional analyses of municipal elections.

Undertaking such analyses, the collector of local electoral statistics encounters many difficulties in preparing the raw data for processing and analysis. Local statistics are not nationally centralized but published by the states individually. Comparison is hindered by the lack of uniformity in the reporting of statistics. States often do not report similar statistics through successive elections; some states publish electoral results only for municipalities over a certain size; and some states provide no summary statistics. The data collection must, therefore, be founded on analysis of local returns from each Gemeinde under study.

The accumulation of comparable electoral and demographic statistics was made possible only by the restriction of the data collection to one state, Rhineland-Palatinate. With the Gemeinde as the data unit, demographic variables were obtained from the eighteen local, state, and national elections held between 1947 and 1969, and from the 1961 census. A 20 per cent sample of 588 Gemeinden , derived according to systematic sampling procedures, is the basis for further analyses utilizing a variety of bi- and multivariate statistical techniques, beginning in chapter 4. Before the statistical analyses of local electoral behavior are undertaken, however, a summary of the socioeconomic and political characteristics of Rhineland-Palatinate is needed, to complete the description of the contextual background of local elections.

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