The institutionalization of party systems and their importance in the democratization processes have been under discussion at length in international literature. The essay is focused on the institutionalization process of West Germany's post-World War II party system. Starting from a set of empirical indicators drawn from the literature, the author shows that this party system was fully structured since at least 1957. Subsequently, attention is focused on actors, phases, strategies and motivations explaining the stabilization of the German party system. Finally, the essay assesses the role that this stabilization played on the consolidation of West Germany’s democracy. According to the findings, the role played by political parties and party system was particularly significant due to the poor legitimacy of democracy among German citizens throughout the years immediately following the end of World War II.
Keywords: West Germany, World War II, party system, political parties, institutionalization, democracy