Political scandals and the trust of citizens in German federal institutions (2001 - 02)

Dr Dan Hough was awarded a one-year ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship in order to carry out research on the relationship between corruption (in the form of ‘political scandals’) and the trust of citizens in German federal institutions such as the Lower Chamber of Parliament (Bundestag), the Upper Chamber of Parliament (Bundesrat), the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) and the Central Bank (Bundesbank) as well as in politicians and political parties.

The role of the print media in filtering information about the independent variable (the political scandal) and the dependent variable (the attitudes and opinions of the citizen) was also be investigated.

By analysing opinion poll data in three federal states with differing historical and cultural backgrounds (namely Lower Saxony, Brandenburg and Baden-Württemberg) he was able to throw light on how the opinions, attitudes and levels of trust displayed by citizens towards the above-mentioned institutions are affected by political scandals. Secondly, by analysing (using qualitative discourse analysis) the content of selected regional and national newspapers, he discussed whether the filter of the print media can be said to affect the attitudes of the citizens in each of the federal states under study.