Abstracts 2/2016 english

 

Niedermayer, Oskar and Jürgen Hofrichter: The voters of the AfD: Who are they, where do they come from and how far-right are they?

Due to the great successes of the AfD in the three state elections of March 2016 there is an intensified discussion about the characteristics of the AfD’s electorate at the national level. Who votes for the AfD? Are there any social groups with an above-average AfD affinity and what do we know about the socio-structural composition of the electorate? Does the AfD take away voters from all the other parties and which party suffers most? What can be said about the ideological positions of AfD voters, especially: how far-right are they? These questions are answered using mostly not yet released data from national representative Infratest dimap surveys. It is shown that although blue-collar workers have an above-average affinity to the party, AfD is not the party of the ordinary people. The AfD draws voters from all the other parties but the shares vary. The ideological position of its voters is more to the right than the population as a whole but the majority does not show an extreme right-wing belief system. [ZParl, vol. 47 (2016), no. 2, pp. 267 – 284]

 

Ketelhut, Jörn, Angelika Kretschmer, Marcel Lewandowsky and Léa Roger: Facets of German euroscepticism: A qualitative analysis of the European election manifestos 2014.

More and more often since the early 1990s there are complaints about democratic and legitimacy deficits of the European Union. In the EU member states new parties took up this issue. In the literature this new political line is termed ‘euroscepticism’. The newly developed typology of euroscepticism allows for the first time to differentiate between its various political manifestations. Based on a qualitative study on electoral manifestos of German parties participating in the 2014 European election topics of eurosceptic criticism can be distinguished and insights into the ideological background as well as the rigidity of criticism can be gained. Drawing on this framework there are participatory, regional-autonomist, national-fiscal and identity-related types of euroscepticism. While the first two specifications prevail on a non-national dimension, the other two variants display a considerable preference for the national context. The set of categories developed here contributes to the theoretical and conceptual debate on euroscepticism. Furthermore, it provides an empirical classification of the different types of German party-based euroscepticism. [ZParl, vol. 47 (2016), no. 2, pp. 285 – 304]

 

Ritzi, Claudia and Aiko Wagner: Symbolic or real? A representative study of young adults political online and offline participation

Although electoral participation has decreased especially in the group of young adults in recent years, online participation may lead to more political engagement of young people. By asking for their activities in conventional and unconventional forms of political participation and the reasons for their engagement, their online participation can be identified as primarily either a diversion, symbolic behaviour or ‘genuine’ participation. Furthermore, influence is a major motivation to participate online. Internet participation options are highly frequented, mostly by people who also participate conventionally. In addition, mainly “young critical citizens” can be encouraged to participate via the Internet. [ZParl, vol. 47 (2016), no. 2, pp. 304 – 326]

 

Kuhn, Sebastian and Marcus Tausendpfund: Alienation at the school of democracy? Citizens’ and politicians’ attitudes towards information and participation opportunities in local planning.

Due to the striking distance between citizens and politicians within their communities, the local level offers the best possibilities for political participation. However, protests such as “Stuttgart 21” suggest that the crisis of representative democracy has now reached the local level and that local political elites more and more leave local citizens behind. Whether such alienation between citizens and political elites can be demonstrated is analysed on the basis of a German survey of over 12,000 citizens and 720 local politicians in 28 municipalities. There are significant local differences in the pattern of relations between citizens and politicians. A clear pattern of alienation between citizens and politicians can, however, not be determined. [ZParl, vol. 47 (2016), no. 2, pp. 326 – 348]

 

Vetter, Angelika and Zora Hoyer: Citizens, local politicians and local public administration in Germany: Three perspectives on local direct democracy and its consequences.

Direct democracy in German local politics is a topic, which is widely discussed in science and politics today facing questions of increasing input and output legitimacy of representative democracy. At the same time empirical knowledge about the consequences of direct democratic decision-making procedures is rare. Based on qualitative data from interviews with engaged citizens, local politicians and local public administration on eight direct democratic decision-making processes in Baden-Wurttemberg one can show that citizens, politicians and public administration similarly show more positive than neutral and negative assessments of the direct-democratic procedures, even though most of them were related to conflict. Positive assessments are obviously connected to the unambiguousness of the respective decision, which in turn is connected to a high mobilization and a high turnout. Therefore, increasing the use of direct-democratic decision-making procedures in local politics seems to be rather a supplement to local representative democracy than necessarily a threat. [ZParl, vol. 47 (2016), no. 2, pp. 349 – 368]

 

Behnke, Joachim and Philipp Weinmann: Flexible and targeted adjustment – an alternative to the German electoral law oriented towards intraparty proportionality.

The electoral system to the German Bundestag may not only lead to unnecessary enlargements of parliament but it is also not focused systematically on reducing the intraparty distortions. Those distortions played a substantial role in the political discussion as they are crucial for the acceptability of the electoral system. But aside from extreme solutions, none of the existing reform proposals is oriented systematically towards a pre-defined level of intraparty proportionality. Thus, a new procedure is proposed here, which consistently focuses on guaranteeing a minimum level of intraparty proportionality. It does not lead to unnecessary enlargements and may be adjusted via a parameter to deliver the desired balance between attenuation of intraparty distortions and parsimonious enlargements of parliament. Combined with a reform, which leads to far fewer overhang seats, it could eliminate the severest distortions and in most cases still keep within the regular size of parliament. [ZParl, vol. 47 (2016), no. 2, pp. 369 – 388]

 

Hellmann, Daniel: Moving away from the problem of path dependencies: Preferential voting in multi-member constituencies as a reform option to the German electoral law?

If the German electoral system would have been designed in a planning-related manner, it could have taken on several forms – but it most certainly would not look the way it currently looks. Despite the seeming lack of creativity and drive concerning the electoral system’s reform in the current term, it is necessary to think about further reform steps. The reform discussion should centre on an electoral system named STV – Single Transferable Vote. STV has many supporters in the international scientific discussion and it is at least able to do one thing: to deliver on the promise of the connection between personalization and proportional representation to an even larger extent than can be reached through the German mixed member proportional system. And even if such a thing as a best electoral system cannot exist, STV despite some weaknesses, carries great potentials that could be implemented in the German political system. [ZParl, vol. 47 (2016), no. 2, pp. 389 – 410]

 

Smeddinck, Ulrich and Basil Bornemann: Nasty Nudging? – Critical consideration on the ‚nudging‘ discussion in the German context.

Nudging refers to a much-debated political steering approach that relies on gentle interventions in decision architectures of individuals with the aim to shape their behaviour in a direction that is beneficial for them and/or for the society as a whole. For some, nudges have the potential to address grand societal challenges in an efficient and effective manner; others regard nudges as inappropriate means of political steering that open the door for manipulating citizens. But the existing criticism is characterized by dramatization, lack of differentiation, normative exaltation, problematic demarcations and comparisons as well as numerous omissions. However, a more differentiated, contextualized and politicized discussion would open the view for the specific potential of democratically legitimized pro-social nudges to contribute to tackling grand societal challenges. [ZParl, vol. 47 (2016), no. 2, pp. 437 – 459]

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