Who Turned Their Back on the SPD? Electoral Disaffection with the German Social Democratic Party and the Hartz Reforms

Friday, 3 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW1.3.04 (Tower One)
Baptiste Francon, BETA Lorraine, Nancy, France
This paper proposes an empirical analysis of the declining support for the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) during Schröder government’s second term of office, which was marked by major reforms in the fields of unemployment insurance and labour market policy (Hartz reforms). Drawing on a panel of West Germans, we provide evidence that this disaffection was strongly related to a worker’s occupation and that it involved electoral backlash from core constituencies of the SPD. In comparison, the impact of other socio-economic characteristics such as the labour market status or the income was less pronounced. We further show that discontent grew stronger among occupations where the risk of unemployment was more prevalent. These results suggest that dissatisfaction with the on-going labour market reforms accounts for a substantial share of the public mistrust of SPD during that period.