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New Publication by Lena Masch: „Shift in Public Opinion Formations on Defense, Energy, and Migration: The Case of Russia’s War Against Ukraine”

News from Nov 21, 2023

A new article by Lena Masch, Ronja Demel, David Schieferdecker, Hanna Schwander, Swen Hutter, and Jule Specht was published in the winter issue of the International Journal of Public Opinion Research: Under the title “Shift in Public Opinion Formations on Defense, Energy, and Migration: The Case of Russia's War Against Ukraine,” the authors examine support for Ukraine in Germany, e.g., in the form of arms deliveries or aid for refugees. In a panel survey, people were repeatedly asked about their attitudes towards this support over the course of one year.

One of the results: The attitudes of AfD supporters deviated systematically from those of the population as a whole, and the deviation even increased over time. The study thus provides new insights into the connections between party preferences and social polarization in times of upheaval.


Russia’s war on Ukraine came as a shock to the Western world. In this context, the study of public opinion change is crucial for understanding the dynamics of political attitudes and societal polarization. Using Germany as an exemplary case study, we investigate how public opinion changed regarding defense, energy supply, and migration as three crucial policy domains in the first year of the war. Using a representative eight-wave online panel survey study, we map attitudes in the general population and among supporters of different parties, tracing their development over time. Our analyses lead to two key insights: First, attitudes toward defense, energy supply, and migration remained remarkably stable over time. Second, we found a high degree of consensus across the partisan spectrum. Only the supporters of the far-right populist party systematically diverged from the general population, and this discrepancy grew larger over time. Our findings contribute significantly to the understanding of political attitude formation and processes of social polarization along cleavages in times of abrupt societal change.

The paper is accessible here.

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