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Democratic participation and political communication in systems of multi-level governance : the case of Germany

Demokratische Partizipation und politische Kommunikation in Systemen von Mehrebenen-Governance : das Beispiel Deutschland
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Rattinger, Hans; Wagner, Sandra

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Further Details
Corporate Editor Bamberger Centrum für Empirische Studien (BACES)
Abstract "The first thing of interest after an election is usually not the level of turnout, but the result in terms of which party got most of the votes, which parties lost or won votes compared to the last election and what this means for the future government. Only in the more detailed analyses following the elections turnout comes under scrutiny. At least that is true as long as turnout is within the normal range. Against this background some thoughts should be devoted to the question, why a detailed analysis of electoral participation is of relevance. The first reason is derived from the discussions in the theories of democracy. The question of what level of turnout is the optimum for a democratic political system is a normative one as Scharpf points out (Scharpf: 21 ff). While in input-oriented theories a high level of participation is crucial to any democracy and therefore of great interest, output-oriented theories are not so concerned about turnout, as the main task of an election according to them is to generate an authorized government. So at least from an output-oriented point of view turnout is not of major interest. This discussion shall not be deepened here, however, it gives a good background to think about the relevance of turnout. As so often the truth might lie somewhere in the middle. The level of participation can be taken as an indicator for political as well as societal developments in a democracy, as a point of departure to search for their reasons. In many cases, more than the pure level of turnout, changes in participation rates call attention among the academics and politicians. Especially the latter are more interested in the practical consequences than in theoretical implications of changes in turnout as these might affect their parties' chances and as a consequence their personal political fate. In the case of declining participation the questions are: Do people from all parts of society stay at home to the same extent, which would not change the chances of the parties? Or does the group of new non-voters consist of people with certain socio-demographic characteristics or attitudes who tended to vote for a certain party earlier? Is the decline in turnout a consequence of fading trust in parties and politicians or can it be interpreted as satisfaction with the current political situation?" (excerpt)

Die Studie beschäftigt sich mit der politischen Beteiligung der Bevölkerung in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, deren Wahlsystem sich durch Partizipationsmöglichkeiten auf lokaler, regionaler, Landes-, Bundes- und Europaebene auszeichnet. In einem ersten Schritt werden folgende Muster und Trends der Beteiligung in Längsschnittuntersuchungen beleuchtet: (1) Die Entwicklung der politischen Partizipation von 1949 bis 2002 bei Landes-, Bundes- und Europawahlen, (2) die Wahlbeteiligung in den einzelnen Bundesländern von 1979 bis 1999 sowie (3) die Ursachen der Partizipation bzw. des Fernbleibens von Wahlen. In einem zweiten Schritt gilt das Hauptaugenmerk den Einrichtungen bzw. den Partizipationsmöglichkeiten sowie der Mobilisierung der Wähler. Hierbei werden zunächst die institutionellen Gegebenheiten (Datum der Wahl, Wahllokal, Briefwahl) und die institutionelle Mobilisierung (politischer Machtumfang der zu wählenden Governance-Ebene, Form des Wahlsystems) betrachtet. Anschließend werden die individuellen Gegebenheiten (Bildung, Einkommen usw.), die sich nach Auswertung von des Datenmaterials zu einer sozioökonomischen Struktur formen lassen, im Rahmen einer Umfrage zu der Wahlbeteiligung von 1994 bis 2004 untersucht. In einem dritten Schritt widmen sich die Autoren dem Aspekt der individuellen Mobilisation, also der intrinsischen Motivation und der Überzeugungskraft, potentielle Nichtwähler zu einer Stimmenabgabe zu bewegen. Die Ergebnisse offenbaren einen leichten aber spürbaren Rückgang der allgemeinen Wahlbeteiligung in Deutschland, wobei die sozioökonomischen Faktoren wie Bildung, Alter, Einkommen usw. mit politischer Partizipation korrelieren. (ICG2)
Keywords Federal Republic of Germany; democracy; democratic behavior; voter turnout; voting behavior; political behavior; political participation; political apathy; dissatisfaction with politics; election to the Bundestag; election to the European Parliament; election to the Landtag; local election; mobilization; socioeconomic factors; institution; nonvoter; multi-level system
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Method empirical; quantitative empirical
Document language English
Publication Year 2004
City Bamberg
Page/Pages 55 p.
Series BACES Discussion Paper, 2
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
data provider This metadata entry was indexed by the Special Subject Collection Social Sciences, USB Cologne