Where is the middle? Considering the socio-political centre in Germany

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Where is the political middle? This article revisits the concept in an era of populisms, radicals, extremists, niche parties, social movements, swinging voters, non-voters, and a shrinking ‘mainstream’. The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) is a pertinent case because of its history as an archetypal consensus democracy. ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ were parameters shaping the ‘middle’. Plurality and fluctuation in the electorate challenges these coordinates and change in the party system surpassed previous ‘transformations’. Three crises correlated with fragmentation and upheaval. A fourth correlates with a shift, at least temporarily, back to a traditional ‘centre’ party. The article draws on election and polling data, surveys, party programmes, media sources, and a multidisciplinary literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-756
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Politics and Society
Issue number5
Early online date29 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Germany
  • Political middle
  • crises
  • electorate
  • party system
  • populism


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