The work of Russell Dalton has played a seminal role in the study of the relation between political sophistication and partisan dealignment. It has to be acknowledged furthermore that there is a consensus on the occurrence of a decline of partisanship in Germany. Using panel data as well as pooled cross-sectional observations, however, it is clear that generational replacement is not the sole driving force of partisan dealignment, but that period effects should also be taken into account. While on an aggregate level rising levels of political sophistication have occurred simultaneously with decreasing partisanship, individual-level analysis suggests clearly that the least sophisticated are most likely to feel alienated from the party system. The article closes with some very specific suggestions on how to address the democratic consequences of declining levels of partisanship. © 2014 © 2014 Association for the Study of German Politics.
- age period cohort