Electoral and Political Culture in Modern Central Europe

This field is rooted in my doctoral dissertation on “electoral culture” and electoral politics in Imperial Germany, published in 1994. Dreiklassenwahlrecht und Wahlkultur in Preußen 1867-1914. Landtagswahlen zwischen korporativer Tradition und politischem Massenmarkt (Three-class Voting System and Electoral Culture in Prussia, 1867-1914. State Elections Between Corporatuve Traditions and Political Mass Market) (Düsseldorf: Droste, 1994) elucidates why the Prussian three-class electoral law in Wilhelmine Germany, although widely condemned as socially unjust, could survive for half a century, despite all the signs pointing to mass politicization. The book threads together constitutional and political history as well as social and cultural history. Based on this integrative concept is its central notion, that of an “electoral culture”. The book argues that the three-class electoral law was based on and reinforced older political and cultural traditions. They ultimately go back to the days of the ancien regime, but continued to resonate in Prussia’s rural populace until the First World War.

One of my contributions to the history elections, and parliaments in modern Central Europe, “Political Culture and Democratization,” in Imperial Germany 1871-1918. The Short Oxford History of Germany, ed. James Retallack (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), explores the historical variety and fluidity of the concept democracy and challenges the idea that there was one true understanding of democracy or democratization. Instead, I draw attention on different and yet overlapping models of ‘democratization.’ In general, I am interested in long-term continuities of Central European political culture, especially in the question how in the “long” 20th century the countries of the former Holy Roman Empire (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands) have established consociationalist models of domestic conflict resolution that deviated from the path of classic Western, Anglophone and French democracies.