Project News Overview

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Policy Brief: The UN at 75: Germans call for international cooperation instead of national egoism

The United Nations (UN) is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Two-thirds of Germans have a positive view of the UN. But the overwhelming majority also see an urgent need for action. They demand international cooperation in solving global problems.

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Populism Barometer: Sharp decline in populist attitudes in Germany

In the year before the 2021 federal elections in Germany, fewer and fewer people are populist, especially in the political center. The decline of populism is putting populists on the defensive. At the same time, the dangers of further radicalization on the right are increasing.

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Analysis: Better than its reputation? The "GroKo" fulfills its promises – and fast

It's halftime in Berlin: In the fall, Germany's federal government will present an interim report regarding the promises it made in the coalition agreement. A recent Bertelsmann Stiftung study already shows the following: In the first 18 months of its government activity, Germany's grand coalition – or "GroKo,"– has already fulfilled or started on two-thirds of its promises. But voters don't see it.

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Expert Workshop: International organizations under pressure: Scholars and practitioners discuss solutions

Although they are key players in efforts to solve global problems, international organizations are currently facing intense pressure and having to repeatedly demonstrate their legitimacy. At a workshop we recently hosted in Geneva, international experts addressed the issues of how the legitimacy of these organizations can be evaluated and which means are available to strengthen it. The event was jointly organized with the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) and the University of Stockholm.

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Study: Rejection of parties shapes the voting decisions of Europeans

Our analysis of the European elections has revealed that many Europeans take a negative stance. A majority could therefore vote against certain parties in May, rather than voting for a party. At the same time, supporters of the extreme and Eurosceptic margins are more strongly mobilised than the political centre, which still suffers from voter fatigue. This could shape the election results and make it difficult to form positive majorities in the new EU Parliament.

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Policy Brief: Strong Support for International Cooperation among citizens of G20 states

On 30 November, heads of state and government will meet in Buenos Aires for this year’s G20 summit to discuss common solutions for global challenges. Yet things currently do not bode well for international cooperation. From the Paris climate agreements to the UN migration pact, global cooperation is increasingly being eroded by nations acting unilaterally. However, an international survey shows that the majority of citizens are calling for more courage in multilateralism.

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Policy Brief: Relinquishment of the Political Center

Would a national CSU be able to compete better against the AfD? Germany's established political parties are searching for strategies to counter right-wing populism. This also holds true for the CSU. While doing so, the CSU shouldn't overlook the fact that the AfD is a party on the right-wing populist margin. Whoever emulates them could end up there, as well. This is shown by our analysis of potential electorates in the new "EINWURF."

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Analysis: Coalition agreement under the microscope: The grand coalition largely kept its promises

More of the same or a feeling of new beginnings: A possible relaunch of the grand coalition would be met with little enthusiasm by voters and commentators. But an analysis of the achievements of the CDU/CSU-SPD government in power from 2013 to 2017 shows that it was at least much more hardworking than its reputation. In fact, nearly 80 percent of the promises made in the coalition agreement were either completely or partially kept. Nevertheless, citizens don't see it that way.

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ELECTION ANALYSIS: The 2017 Bundestag Election: Election results reveal new line of conflict in Germany’s democracy

For the first time in two decades, the social divide in voter turnout for an election of Germany’s federal parliament, the Bundestag, noticeably decreased. However, the election results simultaneously reveal a new line of conflict: between skeptics and supporters of modernization. This divide could also influence political debate and election results in the future.

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Study: Before the election: Majority of Germans reject populist views

From Syriza and Podemos to Le Pen, Brexit and Trump: Political parties and individuals on both ends of the political spectrum have recently used populist sentiment to score political points. How do things look in the run-up to Germany's national elections? Our study defines what populism is – and shows that a majority of Germans do not hold populist views.

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ELECTION ANALYSIS: Parliamentary Election in NRW: The Social Divide of Voter Turnout Has Intensified

North Rhine-Westphalia conforms to an ongoing trend: In Germany's most populous federal state, voter turnout for a state parliamentary election in the country went up for the eighth time in a row. But, as our election analysis demonstrates, the social divide of voter turnout in NRW also increased in 2017 when compared to the state parliamentary election in 2012.

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Policy Brief: 598

The new election law renders the standard size of Germany’s Bundestag – 598 parliamentarians – obsolete. With the upcoming Bundestag election, the parliament could even swell to 700 or more members. But there’s still time for reforms!

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Divided Democracy: The Social Divide in Voter Turnout

Is it a sign of growing frustration or civic protest? Or is it simply a normal feature of an established democracy? The structural dimension of voter participation is often obscured by debates focusing on day-to-day politics: More than anyone, it is members of socially disadvantaged and less educated social strata who are withdrawing from politics in large numbers.

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Policy Brief: Ballots Mailed, Turnout Boosted!

Low and socially divided voter turnout harms Germany’s democracy. To vote by mail – the only flexible way to cast one’s ballot – citizens still have to apply before each election. If this hurdle were removed, voter turnout could go back up.

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Policy Brief: "Modernizing the Vote" – 8-Point Plan to Raise Voter Turnout

Voter turnout in Germany is decreasing and no longer socially representative. This harms our democracy. There aren't any simple, fail-safe solutions for countering declining voter turnout. However, the eight proposals in the new issue of the "EINWURF" policy brief provide an outline of how voter turnout could be raised anew as well as how to mitigate its social inequality.

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Study: Lowering the Voting Age to 16 Can Permanently Boost Voter Turnout

Voter turnout has been steadily declining for years in Germany for federal, state and municipal elections. That harms the democracy because elections are less and less representative and feature more and more social division. Lowering the voting age could halt this trend in the long run.

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Election Analysis: The typical non-voter comes from a socially disadvantaged milieu

Voter participation has reached record lows in Germany. Although the Bertelsmann Stiftung has demonstrated several times that many non-voters live in precarious neighborhoods, their social profile continues to be a matter of dispute. A new analysis categorizes them for the first time into societal milieus.

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DEMOCRACY STUDY: Election Results in Bremen Are Not Socially Representative

Voter participation for the parliamentary elections of the city-state of Bremen hit a record low of 50.1 percent in 2015. Socially precarious districts have become non-voter strongholds. The anchoring of political parties in the non-voter milieus is eroding. A recent study demonstrates the social divide of Bremen's state parliament.

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Democracy Study: Results of Hamburg's 2015 Parliamentary Election Are Not Socially Representative

Voter turnout in Germany has been declining for years at all levels of government. The same holds true for Hamburg. Never before have so few citizens casted their votes (56.9 percent) as during the most recent state parliamentary election. Socially precarious urban districts have become non-voter strongholds. A recent study attests to the social divide of this northern city-state.

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Study: Bundestag Debates: More Verbal Sparring Beneath the Federal Eagle?

In the eyes of citizens, debates in Germany's Bundestag are less and less appealing. Media reports on what happens there are growing rarer, and only one in four citizens can recall concrete details about a recent debate in the Bundestag. A new Bertelsmann Stiftung study analyzes these shortcomings and makes proposals for reforms that could enliven confrontations in parliament.

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Study: The Older Generation Makes More Future-Oriented Decisions than the Younger One

The average voter is getting older and older, and younger people are going to the polls less and less often. There is growing concern about a so-called “pensioners’ democracy” in which parties make policies at the expense of intergenerational justice. But the older generation thinks in a more future-oriented manner than is often assumed.

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Interview: Enriching Democracy

Citizens' participation has always been present on the municipal level. But two things have made participation an increasingly important matter on the state and national levels in Germany as well: the "Stuttgart 21" project involving major changes to the city’s main railway station and urban landscape, and the "enraged citizens" (Wutbürger) phenomenon involving mostly middle-aged and financially secure citizens who angrily protest in the streets because of their disappointment with politics. Below, the Bertelsmann Stiftung's Robert Vehrkamp explains this "changing participation" – which is also the title of a study recently published by the foundation ("Partizipation im Wandel").

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Policy Brief: EINWURF

EINWURF is a policy brief of the Bertelsmann Stiftung. In 6-8 issues per year, it deals with current topics and challenges to the future of democracy. It concentrates on the issues of political participation, the future of parties and parliaments, the sustainability and forward-looking approach of democratic politics, and new forms of direct democracy.

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Modernizing the Vote: Ways to Raise Voter Turnout

A large majority of non-voters (59 percent) do not rule out participation in elections per se and can still be approached and mobilized. But, for that, there needs to be a concerted effort and strategy on the part of all democratic forces. By addressing the core issues of who votes, how we vote and according to which rules we vote, we outline proposals that could help get voter turnout back up.

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Diverse Democracy: Changing Participation

It is important to figure out how citizen’s participation is affecting Germany’s democracy. To do so, we examine both direct-democratic and dialogue-oriented processes. This issue is pursued in comprehensive analyses that take citizens and political elites into account.

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Demokratiemonitor: Democracy Means Constant Adjustment

Democracy means constantly adjusting to new challenges and continuous change. How is the huge increase in citizens’ participation impacting the system of representative democracy? Why are certain segments of the population going to the polls less and less often? How can intergenerational justice be strengthened? We are seeking answers to these and related questions.

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Study: Citizens' Participation Strengthens Our Democracy

Two-thirds of all citizens would like to make more political decisions themselves. Contrary to a popular preconception, rather than weakening democracy, these kinds of direct-democratic processes actually strengthen it.

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Analysis: Why Socially Divided Voter Turnout Hurts the EU

For the 2014 European Parliament elections, the top half of society also had a much greater influence than the bottom half on the election results. Something similar had already happened with the 2013 elections for Germany's federal parliament, the Bundestag. The current issue of EINWURF analyzes the voter turnout.

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Newsletter Archiv: EINWURF – "Future of Democracy"

EINWURF is a Policy Brief of the Bertelsmann Stiftung.  In 6-8 issues per year, it deals with current topics and challenges to the future of democracy. It concentrates on the issues of political participation, the future of parties and parliaments, the sustainability and forward-looking approach of democratic politics, and new forms of direct democracy.