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Germans want more direct democracy

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Germans want more direct democracy
Photo: DPA
14:18 CEST+02:00
A new study says that Germans are becoming less and less interested in traditional, party-based democracy, and want more referendums and more direct influence in political issues.

The survey, published Monday by the Bertelsmann foundation, found that 78 percent of Germans would like more referendums, even though only 10 percent have actually voted in one.

Some 68 percent of Germans also said they want more say in important infrastructure projects. This finding probably reflects last year's bitter stand-off between the state government of Baden-Württemberg and a mass public campaign over the Stuttgart 21 railway conversion project.

The survey also found a lot of interest in "citizen's budgets," where some local councils allow people to vote directly on how part of the municipality budget should be spent. Nearly half of those asked (47 percent) said they had taken part in such a decision in the past, or would like to.

There was significantly less interest in more conventional forms of political participation. Nearly 70 percent of Germans said they would never consider joining a political party or even a political campaign. More than half of Germans (53 percent) also never join political demonstrations.

Of the five major local elections held so far in 2011, both Hamburg and Bremen recorded their lowest turnouts ever, while the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt recorded their second lowest.

The exception was Baden-Württemberg, where a groundswell of environmental concern over Stuttgart 21 and nuclear power brought the state its first Green state premier.

DAPD/The Locall/bk

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