The Suddeutsche Zeitung put out an interesting article today. It summed up the results of the Bartelsmann Foundation, which found that Germans don't really give a damn (my words, not theirs) over what happens in the Bundestag (the parliament of Germany).
What the study discovered was that roughly seventy-five percent of the adult public just don't follow debates in the Bundestag. Not via the internet, newspapers, or the various state-run networks.
Reasons given? What the public generally says is that debate within the Bundestag comes down to party lines....where a speech is given to defend the party position, and they stand by that position. There's no give-and-take, where a good argument wins at the end of the debate. Yeah, they've finally realized the wizard is not behind the curtain.....as you might think of the Wizard of Oz.
The Bartelsmann folks say that it was around fifty percent of the public who believed in listening to the debates and paying attention to the Bundestag.....thirty years ago.
What's this really mean? Well....welcome to the American perception of politics. A growing number of residents in America also downplay debate in politics, and it doesn't matter if we talk Republicans or Democrats. Nor do Americans readily buy into whatever the President says, or what the news media perceives as some truth.
From Channel One (ARD) and Channel Two (ZDF), along with the twenty-odd state-run sub-channels.....there's probably over forty hours a week of some type of German political forum, dialog or discussion. For prime-time coverage.....I'd take a guess you can find at least three hours each evening. There's never a shortage of political chat shows.
How many people watch these shows? I'd be curious if the Bartelsmann Foundation did any statistical coverage over what ARD and ZDF offer. Out of eighty million Germans....taking into consideration that five-odd million are immigrants and don't care for the politics angle....it's hard to figure the number. I'd take a humble guess that barely two million Germans catch some portion of the political coverage per day.
As for the massive amount of political talk covered by newspapers out of Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg? They might talk up the topics that are important.....but if only six-percent of the readers of the paper actually read the whole political section....it might lead to some disenchantment by the management.
Bild? It's the 'USA Today' of Germany and generally picks up a political topic which might be of interest across the nation....but they generally tell the whole story in one-hundred words or less. Call it the bullet-statement or a one-sided argument to a discussion.....but it's generally what Germans prefer....simplicity to a complicated mess.
What's all this Bartelsmann Foundation report lead onto? In their mind.....less democracy. You just put your trust in the parties to reach some vote, and life goes on. As the Bartelsmann Foundation puts it.....this might not be a positive thing. You need to participate and know what you get via the Bundestag.