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Citizens, Elections, and Democracy: Unified Germany in Cross-National and Historical Perspective

Principal Investigator:
Research Team:

Fritz Thyssen Stiftung

Based on a post-election survey conducted in the aftermath of the 2017 German Federal Election, the study focuses on political intermediation, the structuring of basic socio-political conflicts, citizens’ understanding(s) of democracy and their views on the integrity of the electoral process. The study is part of the „Comparative National Elections Project“(CNEP). CNEP is a multi-national project in which for now more than 25 years scholars on five continents have been studying important aspects of electoral democracy, using compatible research designs and a common core of survey questions. Germany played a pioneering role in CNEP: it was the country where the first survey ever was conducted in the CNEP framework, namely in the context of the first all-German Federal Election in 1990. Unfortunately, no new CNEP data have been collected in Germany ever since. Hence, the 2017 German study will allow for filling a striking gap in CNEP’s cross-national data matrix. Moreover, recent developments in its electoral democracy make present-day Germany more than ever an interesting case under the CNEP framework: with respect to old and new media, the modes of political intermediation are significantly changing. Socio-political conflicts seem to be shifting from the economic to the non-economic arena. Citizens’ understanding(s) of democracy are becoming more heterogeneous. The very meaning of what democracy is about also has become a matter of contestation. Even the integrity of electoral processes is put under question at least from certain parts of the electorate. These questions at the heart of CNEP’s scholarly mission seem perfectly suited to analyze today’s electoral democracy in Germany.