The Bundestag and German Citizens: More Communication, Growing Distance
- This contribution examines how links between citizens and Members of the Bundestag have evolved since 1949. The focus will be 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) will be explored in their effect on individual parliamentary behaviour vis-a-vis citizens and in the Bundestag’s ‘corporate’ links (i.e., links not based on electoral incentives in the constituencies and the chamber) with citizens. In particular, the development of petitions and electronic petitions will be 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.