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The Bundestag and German Citizens: More Communication, Growing Distance

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This contribution examines how links between citizens and members of the Bundestag have evolved since 1949. The focus is on institutional incentives relating to the electoral system and the rules of procedure in the Bundestag. In addition, new incentives arising from technological developments (especially internet and Web 2.0 applications) are explored regarding their effect on individual parliamentary behaviour vis-à-vis citizens and the Bundestag's ‘corporate’ links with citizens (links not based on electoral incentives in the constituencies and the chamber). In particular, the development of petitions and electronic petitions are assessed. While the evidence presented suggests that Bundestag members have enhanced communication with citizens, this has not halted the decline in popular support for the House. In line with other advanced liberal democracies, trust in parliament is declining as a result of a more critical, less deferential citizenry.

Keywords: Bundestag; institutional trust; parliamentary behaviour; parliamentary practice; parliamentary reform

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Bamberg, Germany

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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