Selected Term Paper No. 2 / Mai 2004
Entwicklungslinien grüner Wählerpotentiale in Deutschland

Friedericke Hardering


This paper is concerned with the development of the German greens electorate since the early 90´s. There are different theories trying to explain which part of the population votes green. One of the first theories about the green electorate, which came up in the late 70´s –early 80´s is that young people are inclined to vote for the greens. Another theory claims that a postmaterialistic concept of values is characteristic for those who vote green. This assumption is based on the theory of Roland Ingleharts Silent Revolution. In his book he tries to explain that during the time of prosperity after the Second World War there is a change in the concept of values in western industrial countries from a materialistic to a post-materialistic concept of values. Consequently topics of the “new politics” like environmental protection or social equality became more popular.
In 1994 a new phenomenon was mentioned by Bürklin and Dalton, the “turning grey of the greens”. The young electorate of the greens grew old and today more middle-aged people vote for the greens.
There are different explanations trying to show how this change in the electorate of the greens could happen: For a long time the most popular explanation was that those who vote green are the last members of the '68-generation growing old. Another explanation assumes that all following generations have a higher affinity for voting green. The last hypothesis called “aging-conservatism-thesis” says that with changing roles in their life people also change their concept of values.
These three hypotheses for the change in the green electorate are discussed in this paper. Based on the result of Arzheimers und Kleins empirical research it is shown in how far these hypotheses are useful to explain the turning grey of the greens. By analysing the history of the greens it should also be demonstrated that not only the green electorate but also the greens themselves have turned grey.