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Dropping the Curtain: The Religious-Secular Party Cleavage in German Morality Politics

  • Eva-Maria Euchner (a1) and Caroline Preidel (a2)


This study examines the religious-secular party cleavage in German morality politics from a new perspective by tracing politicization patterns at the individual level. It builds on the idea of issue competition and explores whether conflicts between Christian Democrats and secular parties align with the traditional denominational divide between Catholics and non-Catholics or with religiosity. By means of logistic regressions of Member of Parliaments’ politicization behavior in the German Bundestag (1998–2002) with regard to three morality policies, the study provides evidence that German politics is still structured by a conflict between Catholics and non-Catholics, whereas the influence of religiosity is secondary. If party competition is at work, non-Catholics draw attention to morality policies, while Catholics refrain from doing so. This finding contradicts research pointing to a decreasing significance of Catholicism for Christian Democracy. Moreover, the study proposes an innovative way to re-examine party cleavages at the individual level and in between elections.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Eva-Maria Euchner, Geschwister-Scholl-Institut für Politikwissenschaften, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Oettingenstr. 67, DE-80538 Munich, Germany. E-mail:


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This article is part of the research project MORAPOL (Comparative Analysis of Moral Policy Change), funded by the European Research Council Advanced Grant (Grant No. 249388) and led by Professor Christoph Knill (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München). We are very grateful for the comments from our colleagues of the MORAPOL project, Marc Debus (University of Mannheim), Christoffer Green-Pedersen (University of Aarhus), Petra Meier (University of Antwerp), and Mieke Verloo (Radboud University).



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Dropping the Curtain: The Religious-Secular Party Cleavage in German Morality Politics

  • Eva-Maria Euchner (a1) and Caroline Preidel (a2)


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