In an interview in the SWR show „Landesschau aktuell Rheinland-Pfalz“, Thorsten Faas illustrated the role of the AfD and its impact on other parties’ positions in the upcoming state election in Rhineland-Palatinate. The interview can be found on the SWR homepage.
Just before Christmas, the “German Politics” special issue „E-Campaigning in Germany: A Net Revolution?“ was published. The contributions in this issue primarily address the 2009 German Bundestag election and give exciting theoretical and empirical insight into the potential of new media for political communication. The issue also contains an article by Julia Partheymüller and Thorsten Faas:
Thorsten Faas has contributed two articles to the latest issue of Zeitschrift für Parlamentsfragen (ZParl), which deals with public opinion research. The first article examines necessary preconditions for survey effects on citizens. One of the possible effects was examined in the second article, written together with Sascha Huber, which takes up the question whether opinion polls had an impact on the poor election results of the FDP in the last Bundestag election:
On November 18, the closing ceremony for our project „Political Communication in Times of New Information and Communication Technology“, which was realized in cooperation with the Bonn Academy of Research and Teaching Practical Politics and YouGov, took place in the Federal State Representation Office of Hamburg in Berlin. Thorsten Faas and Benjamin Sack presented central results of a longitudinal survey, which was carried out in five waves from July 2013 to September 2015.
The so called “filterbubble” attracted special interest. The results show that facebook users and their friends, to a great extent, favor the same political parties. This tendency is even more pronounced for the “Alternative für Deutschland“. Yet, it was not only because of this part of the talk that the hashtag of the event #pksm15 trended on twitter.
The following panel discussion, which was moderated by Christian Krell and in which Alexander Schweitzer, Holger Geißler, Jasmin Siri, and Thorsten Faas participated, centered around the new knowledge on the filterbubble. The idea of social media as a catalyst for political communication was disillusioned. Holger Geißler noted that social media is primarily “social“, not “political”. Alexander Schweitzer confirmed the filterbubble tendency from his own experience: Among his facebook friends the Social Democrats form an absolute majority.
There was also a stream on Periscope, which also attracted interest. The link will soon be published.
In the latest issue of „Neue Gesellschaft/Frankfurter Hefte“, which attends to the issue of political participation, Thorsten Faas elaborates on the advantages and disadvantages of compulsory voting.
„Political Psychology tries to explain political phenomena in a diverse range of fields. This is true for the research on political elites as well as on mass politics, as can be proved by recent developments in the international scientific community. First steps towards this development can also be regarded in Germany, however, knowledge is still not satisfactorily transferred between the different branches of political science as well as between the fields of political science and psychology. With its focus on the cross-sectional topic of political psychology, the special issue wants to strengthen this perspective in German discourse and fill existing gabs.” This was the aim that Thosten Faas and his co-publishers Cornelia Frank (University of Frankfurt) and Harald Schoen (University of Mannheim) formulated in their call for papers in July 2013.
The academic response was outstanding – more than 100 proposals were handed in from all branches of political research. After an internal and external reviewing process and an authors’ conference in September 2014 in Mainz, the volume was published including 21 contributions. The table of contents can be found on the Nomos website.
The publishing of this volume would not have been possible without the support of numerous people and institutions. We would like to thank the board and advisory council of the German Political Science Association (DVPW), which chose the proposal.
Just before Stefan Raab’s farewell from TV, a new publication by Thorsten Faas has been published, in which he analyses Stefan Raab’s role in the 2013 TV debate. Faas’ conclusion:
“The idea of choosing Stefan Raab as a presenter to make the TV debate more attractive has been successful. Raab also showed that quality and quantity do not necessarily have to conflict. A Raabisation of electoral campaigns is no panacea for current trends in electoral campaigning, however, it can be an effective measure.”
Since April 2005, our team edits the working paper series „Mainzer Beiträge zur empirischen Politikforschung (M.BeeP)“ in order to make current results of our research on elections and attitudes accessible to the public.
By means of a volume of tables, the second edition documents the results of a “democracy audit” in Mainz, which was conducted in spring 2015. 250 of 1000 randomly chosen citizens of Mainz who were invited to take part in a survey followed our invitation. This volume shows the results for all survey participants in general as well as differentiated by gender, age and party affiliation.
From June 11-12, our team of empirical political researchers contributed in numerous ways to this year’s annual conference „Nichtwahl und non-elektorale Formen politischer Partizipation im Spiegel der Wahl- und Einstellungsforschung“ (“Non-Vote and Non-Electoral Ways of Political Participation Reflected by Election and Attitude Research”) organized by the DVPW (German Association of Political Scientists) working group „Wahlen und politische Einstellungen“ (“Elections and Political Attitudes”).
On Thursday, Daniela Hohmann and Thorsten Faas gave a talk on „Ein altes Wahlkampfinstrument im neuen Glanz: Welchen Beitrag können Haustürbesuche zur Mobilisierung von Wählern leisten? Analysen aus einem Feldexperiment im Kontext der Mainzer Kommunalwahl 2014” (“An Old Election Campaign Tool Shining in New Splendor: To Which Extend Can Door-to-Door Visits Mobilize Voters? Analyses from a Field Experiment within the Context of the 2014 Regional Election in Mainz“). Since the last Bundestag election, door-to-door election campaigning has regained public attention. In their analyses, the researchers found out that door-to-door visits have a positive effect on voter mobilization.
In her contribution „Krise oder Normalisierung der Demokratie: Wer will direkte Mitsprache?“ („Crisis or Normalization of Democracy: Who Wants a Direct Say?“), Julia Range asked who supports direct democracy and citizen participation. Her analyses are based on data from the research project Bürgerbeteiligung und direkte Demokratie in Baden-Württemberg („Citizen Participation and Direct Damocracy in Baden-Wuerttemberg). While the politically unsatisfied and less educated support citizen participation, she warned that these people might not actually use the potential of political participation.
On Friday, Christina Eder (GESIS) and Thorsten Faas gave a talk on „Gegen den Bahnhof = für grün-rot? Eine Analyse des Wahl- und Abstimmungsverhaltens in Baden-Württemberg 2011“ („Against the Train Station = in Favor of Green/Red? An Analysis of the voting behavior in Baden-Wuerttemberg in 2011). Eder and Faas traced the lines of conflict concerning the infrastructural project Stuttgart 21 and discussed its impact on the voting behavior of the Citizens of Baden-Württemberg in 2011.
Also, Benjamin Sack focused on Stuttgart 21 in his talk: „Der Effekt direkt-demokratischer Beteiligung auf Demokratiezufriedenheit und politisches Vertrauen“ (“The Effect of Direct Democratic Participation on the Satisfaction with Democracy and Political Trust). He examined the often assumed influence of direct democratic participation on the satisfaction with democracy and political trust. A first evaluation of the data showed that there are short-term effects on the satisfaction with democracy, which decrease in the long run, but that there is no impact on political trust.
This week’s Tuesday, the former president of the Hessian Statistical Office, Eckart Hohmann, was our guest. Within the framework of our Statistics I lecture, he gave a talk on „Die politische Funktion der amtlichen Statistik im Wandel – von der retrospektiven Dokumentation zur Steuerung politischer Interventionen“ (“changes in political function of official statistics – from retrospective documentations to controlling political intervention”).
According to Hohmann, the increased relevance of official statistics, especially with regard to international and supranational institutions, is a new challenge to processes and products of official statistics. Additionally, Hohmann stressed the tension between the political relevance of produced numbers and the necessary independence of official statistics.