Studying politics at the local level in Germany: a tale of missing data


What are the strategies of political parties in multi-level government systems and how do voters respond to these strategies? At the national and state level, many researchers have worked with data from party manifestos, candidate lists, party press releases, parliamentary questions, and parliamentary speeches. At the local level, these standard components of the political science toolbox are not available to researchers in many countries—including Germany. The absence of these data means that politics at the local level remains chronically understudied. In this research note, we draw attention to the dearth of data when studying local politics and the questions that we cannot answer as a result. Specifically, we document our failed attempt to collect local party manifestos in smaller municipalities which would have been the basis for an analysis of political parties’ strategies in response to the lowering of voting ages in local elections in German states. We point to examples from other countries that show that it does not have to be this way.

Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft
Klaudia Wegschaider
Klaudia Wegschaider
Postdoctoral Researcher

Democracy | Electoral Rights | Voting | Migration