As European and regional elections are coming closer, they (finally) reach broad media attention and public discussion. Our team “Methods of Empirical Political Research” accompanies these events from a scientific perspective: Which effects do TV debates have? What does the decreasing voter turnout imply? What can be done against this development? Thorsten Faas reported the results of his research in several media appearances in the last couple of days. Amongst them was an SWR-Forum contribution (SWR2, 13.5.) named “Protest und Plattitüden – Vor welcher Wahl steht Europa?” as well as a TV interview on the program “Zur Sache Rheinland-Pfalz” on the 15th of May (SWR).
Both broadcastings can be found on the relevant websites:
With the help of a live experiment on Thursday, our team has examined perceptions and effects of the TV debate between the top candidates of the European election. 36 students participated and watched the live debate in the University. The project is part of a European comparison – All around Europe, students were watching the debate! While watching, the German participants could assess the performance of Schulz, Juncker, Verhofstadt, Keller, and Tsipras. Results will be published soon!
Political arguments rarely aim at completely convincing the opponent of an opinion. Instead strategies are much more subtle. Specific aspects, facets or dimensions are pushed to the fore while others are paid very little attention to in order to put the object of discussion in a certain light. The same applies to the Opel rescue in 2009. Nevertheless, the question arises of what the conflict was about. Was it about jobs? Was it about the prevention of another failure such as the Holzmann “rescue” several years ago? Was it about the wasting of tax revenues? All these are possible interpretations of the Opel rescue. Framing research suggests that whoever formulates the dominant interpretation will also dominate the general views on the Opel rescue.
Based on an online experiment, Thorsten Faas and Harald Schoen examine this thesis in their new publication:
- Thorsten Faas, Harald Schoen: Staatshilfe für Opel? Eine Analyse von Framing-Effekten auf der Basis eines Online-Experiments, in: Frank Marcinkowski (Hrsg.): Framing als politischer Prozess. Beiträge zum Deutungskampf in der politischen Kommunikation, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2014, S. 179–194.
In a recently published article in Zeitschrift für Parlamentsfragen, Jürgen Maier, Thorsten Faas und Michaela Maier analyze the debate on the 2013 Bundestag election. With the help of experimental as well as real-time-response data, they show that especially Steinbrück profited from the debate on TV. Not only could he convince the TV viewers but also could he improve his image. In contrast to this, the viewers’ attitude towards Merkel became worse so that Steinbrück could catch up (a little). It is shown that this effect was still evident a few days after the debate.
- Jürgen Maier, Thorsten Faas, Michaela Maier: Aufgeholt, aber nicht aufgeschlossen: Ausgewählte Befunde zur Wahrnehmung und Wirkung des TV-Duells 2013 zwischen Angela Merkel und Peer Steinbrück, in: Zeitschrift für Parlamentsfragen, 45, 2014, S. 38–54.
The department “Empirical Political Research” will carry out an innovative project on mobilization potentials of different ways of election campaign communication.
The motivation for our work is the negative trend of election turnout, especially with regard to by-elections such as local elections. We want to find out how different ways of election campaign communication can lead to the mobilization of different groups of voters. This way, our results are to offer an added value not only for scientific research but also for political actors. More information on the project can be found at the respective project website.
For those of you who want to read or analyze the exact wording of the TV debates in the run-up to the Bundestag election (debate between Merkel and Steinbrück; debate between Brüderle, Gysi and Trittin), the following publications might be of interest:
- Jürgen Maier, Michaela Maier, Thorsten Faas, Carolin Jansen: Wortlaut der Fernsehdebatte zur Bundestagswahl am 22. September 2013, in: Arbeitspapiere und Dokumentationen des Forschungsschwerpunkts "Kommunikation, Medien und Politik", 40, 2013.
- Thorsten Faas, Jürgen Maier, Michaela Maier: Wortlaut des TV-Dreikampfs zur Bundestagswahl am 22. September 2013, in: Arbeitspapiere und Dokumentationen des Forschungsschwerpunkts "Kommunikation, Medien und Politik", 43, 2013.
These and other transcriptions of TV debates can be downloaded from the website of the working paper series of the University of Landau.
In the context of our research project “Bürgerbeteiligung und Direkte Demokratie in Baden-Württemberg” subsequent to the referendum on Stuttgart 21, which continuously examines political developments and trends in Baden-Württemberg, a tabulation volume of the last telephone survey (July 15 – August 16, 2013) as well as a presentation belonging to it have been published.
Two years after the referendum, still 70 percent of the people living in Baden-Württemberg consider the referendum as “good” or “very good”. Moreover, the majority is “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the way democracy works in Baden-Württemberg. There is practically no dissatisfaction. Most of the people also think that there are enough opportunities for political participation in Baden-Württemberg. However, citizens’ knowledge concerning such opportunities vary extremely.
The publication was also echoed by the media, e.g. SÜDWEST PRESSE, Stuttgarter Zeitung, and Mannheimer Morgen.
In addition to this, Thorsten Faas gave an interview on the basis of the study results, which can be found on baden-wuerttemberg.de.
Four inaugural addresses have taken place in the “Alte Mensa” (Atrium Maximum) on October 24.
At first, Thorsten Faas gave his address on “Den Wählern auf der Spur” (Picking up the Voters’ Trail). Afterwards, Claudia Landwehr gave insights into the “Demokratisches Institutionendesign” (Democratic Institution Design), which was then followed by Arne Niemann’s “Herausforderungen der Europäischen Integration” (Challenges of the European Integration). Last but not least, Kerstin Pohl gave a talk on „Zwischen Wissenschaft und Unterrichtspraxis: Aktuelle Positionen der politischen Bildung“ (Between Science and Teaching Practice: Political Education’s Latest Positions). The program was framed by music in between the talks and a buffet at the end.
Last week, the "Landesrat für digitale Entwicklung und Kultur", which was founded by Rhineland-Palatine’s minister-president Malu Dreyer, was established in Mainz.
The advisory group will discuss social changes, which can be traced back to changing digital processes and will give a fresh impetus for political decision-making. The advisory group consists of fourteen members, amongst them, Thorsten Faas. The meetings will be conducted by Net expert Valentina Kerst.