Optimizing Political Reform Processes
Reform -- in the sense of decisions made at a societal level meant to promote change and bring society “up to date” -- is increasingly meeting with resistance among broad segments of the German population. This resistance often results from the difficulties reformers face in communicating the necessity of implementing far-reaching change processes. Ultimately this remains a critical issue, since, as political scientist Wolfgang Bergsdorf aptly put it, communication in a parliamentary democracy isn’t everything, but without communication, everything is for naught.
In the political sphere, communication means increasing awareness among the public while also increasing acceptance, trust and approval, i.e., democratic legitimacy. This is what distinguishes political communication from all other types of information dissemination. Political communication is not merely a matter of informing the public about decisions made by policymakers, it is about developing, realizing and legitimizing political undertakings through a communicative exchange both among policymakers and between policymakers and the public.
The Optimizing Political Reform Processes project has identified three ways in which policymakers can maximize the potential of strategic communications geared toward reform: by developing a more adequate policymaking vocabulary, by deploying state-of-the-art communications methods in a targeted manner and by creating more effective institutional structures for the development and implementation of dialogue-based communications strategies. Finally, the project is also committed to developing viable strategies for promoting dialogue that are tailored to reflect the realities of today’s media-based society, that adhere to the principles of sustainability and that build trust between policymakers and the public.