Germans vote for parties, not individuals - study (FWD)

Sat Sep 12 18:54:57 PDT 1998

A result of the MMP party list p.r. method in Germany--
Germans vote for parties, not individuals - study

By Andrew Gray

BONN, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Candidates hoping a victory in this month's German
general election will set them on the road to fame are in for a shock --
almost 90 percent of voters don't even know the name of their current member
of parliament. 

A survey into the work of deputies, published on Wednesday ahead of the
September 27 poll, indicated Germans are more likely to vote for parties
rather than individuals. 

``Politics in Germany is party politics,'' Professor Hans-Dieter Klingemann, a
political scientist who worked on the study, told a news conference. 

The survey for Stern magazine, which analysed deputies' work in parliament and
also asked more than 90,000 voters what they thought of their democratic
representatives, contained both good and bad news for Chancellor Helmut Kohl. 

When voters were asked to name their local deputy, Kohl's parliamentary chief
Wolfgang Schaeuble came out on top. Almost 40 percent of his constituents in
the southern town of Offenburg were able to identify him without prompting. 

At the other end of the scale, no one questioned in Economics Minister Guenter
Rexrodt's Berlin constituency was able to say spontaneously that he
represented them. 

Kohl himself scored a recognition rating of just 17 percent in his
constituency of Ludwigshafen in the southwest. On average, only 10.8 percent
of Germans questioned could name their local parliamentarian without

``We know relatively little in Germany about our members of parliament,''
Klingemann said. 

``This study is the first which gives information about the members of
parliament in their constituency and in parliament.'' 

Stern rejected the suggestion that publishing the survey -- complete with
thumbs-up or thumbs-down symbols for every member of parliament -- so close to
polling day could allow it to be used unfairly for election propaganda. 

``There are no crass judgments here,'' Stern editor-in-chief Werner Funk said.

Klingemann said surveys in other countries such as the United States and
Britain indicated deputies were better known if they were directly elected. 

But he said this did not mean Germany should change its voting system, a
hybrid of proportional representation and direct election. Postwar Germany's
founding fathers had rightly developed a system which would put parties first,
he said. 

But candidates should not believe their fate on September 27 will be
determined purely by the image of their party. The survey also found that
voters still take note of constituency work as well as general political

09:46 09-09-98 

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