Sigma: Journal of Political and International Studies


Isaac Lamoreaux


postmaterialism, German Green Party, German politics


The German Green Party seemed to be forever a secondary party in German politics. That is, until the German General Election in 2021 when they gained more seats in the Bundestag than any other party. Many wondered how such a small party could perform such a feat. Scholars, particularly Ronald Inglehart, have theorized on and studied the concept of postmaterialism. In a basic sense, postmaterialism is a set of values that turns away from safety and security concerns (materialism), and more toward what Inglehart called intellectual and aesthetic concerns (Inglehart 1971, 991–993). These concerns range from topics like freedom of speech, greater protections and rights for minority groups, and environmentalism (Inglehart and Abramson 1999, 670). It has been postulated that postmaterialism is mostly driven by middle and upper-class young people who did not experience war or financial instability during their upbringing. These young people would then begin to bring postmaterialist values to the political environment (Inglehart 1971, 991–993). Building off of the scholarly literature, I theorize that a younger generation of Germans holding postmaterialist values was an important factor to the German Green Party’s electoral success in the 2021 German Bundestag Elections, where the Green Party gained over fifty seats. The party then held 118 seats in the 736-seat Bundestag (“Distribution,” 2021).