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Estimating the Conflict Dimensionality in the German Länder from Vote Advice Applications, 2014–2017

  • Dominic Nyhuis EMAIL logo and Pascal König


Building on the spatial model of party competition, we investigate the structure of political conflict in German subnational politics. Little research has examined the conflict dimensionality at the Länder level. Moreover, the few studies which have done so predominantly rely on a deductive approach that pre-structures the conflict space using presumed conflict dimensions. In this paper, we put these dimensionality assumptions to the test with an inductive approach that capitalizes on parties’ preference expressions in vote advice applications. We circumvent the common concern that data from vote advice applications is too sparse for assessing political conflict structures by estimating a space that bridges multiple elections. Unlike previous research, we find that political conflict is defined by a comprehensive left-right dimension and a secondary dimension separating mainstream parties from fringe competitors. This anti-establishment dimension is characterized by diverging preferences over democratic institutions and policies considered consensual among the political mainstream.


We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for valuable feedback on the manuscript.


Figure A1: Individual conflict spaces.
Figure A1: Individual conflict spaces.
Figure A1:

Individual conflict spaces.

Table A1:

Elections in the Analysis.

Abb. State Year
BB Brandenburg 2014
SN Sachsen 2014
HB Bremen 2015
HH Hamburg 2015
BE Berlin 2016
BW Baden-Württemberg 2016
RP Rheinland-Pfalz 2016
ST Sachsen-Anhalt 2016
NW Nordrhein-Westfalen 2017
SH Schleswig-Holstein 2017
SL Saarland 2017
  1. The first column of the Table provides the abbreviations of the states that are used in Figures 1 and 2.


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Published Online: 2018-10-12
Published in Print: 2018-06-26

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