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Economic Voting under Coalition Governments: Evidence from Germany*

  • Marc Debus, Mary Stegmaier and Jale Tosun
Abstract

This article analyzes the impact of economic voting in federal elections for the German parliament. It combines theories of coalition politics and cabinet decision making—like prime ministerial government, collective cabinet decision making and ministerial discretion—with theoretical approaches on voting behavior to test which cabinet actor voters reward for improved economic conditions. The empirical results, which are based on data from German national election studies from 1987–2009, show that the party of the chancellor (and, thus, the strongest coalition party) benefits most from a positive evaluation of economic policy outcomes. There is, however, no consistent empirical evidence that the coalition parties collectively benefit from perceived positive economic performance. Therefore the findings demonstrate that economic voting occurs in German parliamentary elections, but is targeted specifically toward the chancellor's party.

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*Marc Debus is professor of comparative government, School of Social Sciences, University of Mannheim, A5, 6, 68131 Mannheim, Germany (marc.debus@uni-mannheim.de). Mary Stegmaier is a teaching assistant professor in the Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri, 900 University Ave, Columbia, Missouri 65211-6100 (stegmaierm@missouri.edu). Jale Tosun is a visiting professor at the University of Heidelberg and post-doctoral research fellow at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research, University of Mannheim, A5, 6, 68131 Mannheim, Germany (jale.tosun@mzes.uni-mannheim.de). An earlier version of this article was presented at the 71st Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA), Chicago, IL, 11–14 April 2013. Grant support is gratefully acknowledged from the German Research Foundation (DE 1667/2-1). We would like to thank MPSA panel participants and the referees for their valuable comments.
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Political Science Research and Methods
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