Based on Allbus data, stability and change of the impact of social structurally defined interests on party preference in Germany is investigated. We use both traditional cleavage indicators like union membership or frequency of church attendance and further social structural characteristics like class identification, occupation or unemployment experience. We apply a two-level model with varying intercepts for the 16 Allbus surveys from 1980 to 2008. Beyond the expected results we observe some deviations from the stable relationship between social structural variables and party preference. (1) The younger generation of active Catholics prefers the Christian Democrats less than the older cohorts and the East German working class leaned towards this party immediately after unification. (2) Union members got alienated from the Social Democrats since 2004 due to reforms of unemployment benefits for people being out of work for a longer period of time with the consequence that Die Linke could profit from this trend in West and East Germany. (3) This left socialist party and its forerunner, the PDS, has always been the preferred party of people with unemployment experience. (4) The Greens and the Liberal Party are enduringly supported by specific social groups, the Greens by the social and cultural service class and the FDP by the self-employed, at least since this latter party ended the social liberal coalition with the SPD in 1982.
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