Study on the reality of life in Germany

Study on the reality of life: Citizens in Germany long for "people's caretakers" and political representatives who solve problems • Representative study "How we really live" by the rheingold Institute on behalf of Philip Morris examines influencing factors and perspectives on political representation • Concept of the "common people" is gaining relevance • Citizens are becoming more fearful and radical

Citizens in Germany long for "people's caretakers" and political representatives who solve problems

• Representative study "How We Really Live" by the rheingold Institute on behalf of Philip Morris examines influencing factors and perspectives on political representation

• The concept of the "common people" is gaining relevance

• Citizens are becoming more anxious and radical

The trust of German citizens in their elected political representatives is steadily dwindling. At the same time, fears about the future are growing and polarization within the population is increasing. These are the key findings of the representative study "How we really live" conducted by the Cologne-based rheingold Institute on behalf of Philip Morris Germany. For the fourth time in a row, the renowned market research institute has surveyed the attitudes of German citizens towards politics and society. The focus of the current series of studies is the question of what political representation should look like and how it should be structured so that people feel adequately represented.

A favourable breeding ground for the increasing radicalisation of political positions

The results that have now been published are cause for concern: they clearly show that the middle class in particular no longer feels sufficiently represented by political mandate holders and decision-makers. At the same time, external factors such as Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and the loss of prosperity in the wake of inflation and recession are creating a favourable breeding ground for the increasing radicalisation of political positions.

Disappointment and radicalisation are on the rise, while commitment and optimism are dwindling

When asked about the general satisfaction with democracy as well as the perception of one's own life situation and the political mood in Germany, the distribution of the "types of expectations" collected in the context of the study makes it clear that calls for a supposed crisis of democracy in Germany are not completely unfounded.

As the current mood in Germany shows, the "disappointed radicals" are recording gains of eight percentage points to 20 percent in the population, followed by the "overwhelmed fearful", who now also make up a fifth of eligible voters (2022: 16 percent). In contrast, the moderate to progressive camp is losing significantly: The share of "committed optimists" falls by seven percentage points to 22 percent, that of "satisfied moderates" to 29 percent (2022: 33 percent).

The mood in Germany is changing, the rifts between the political camps are widening. From the results of the "How We Really Live" study, a clear change in the general mood into the negative can be seen. Personally, I am very concerned about this, especially since increasing uncertainties and fears are expressed not least in the radicalisation of political positions. Politics, business and civil society have a democratic responsibility here, which we must face up to together.

Torsten Albig, Managing Director Philip Morris Germany

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Content is more important than personal characteristics, representatives should take care of the population

What are the decisive factors that make people feel well represented and represented by political personnel? For most respondents, the answer to this question is clear: First and foremost, substantive positions, agreement with values and convictions as well as the party affiliation of the respective politicians are decisive, but less so personal characteristics such as gender, migration background or appearance. Age plays a role in this context in two ways. On the one hand, older politicians tend to be rated better than younger ones, and on the other hand, the similarity of their age to the age of the respondents plays only a minor role.

At the same time, the concept of the "common people" is gaining relevance

Representatives should take care of the population in the first place, according to the results of the study. On the one hand, this can be explained by the fact that a middle class, which is supposedly under-noticed, is coming under increasing economic pressure. On the other hand, the "simple people" is increasingly understood in a nationalistic way, as a German people. The concept of the "common people" is gaining relevance.

In addition, the study also examined different types of representation, the "how" of representation. Five different leadership styles emerge from the respondents' answers:

1. The National Populist Leader

2. People's Caretaker

3. The Sovereign Mediator

4. The approachable designer

5. The Demanding Visionary

"People's caretaker" is the most popular leadership style

The result is clear: the people should come first. The majority of those surveyed tend to use the leadership style "people's caretaker", followed by the "approachable designer". Problems should be solved in such a way that the population is affected as little as possible. The "demanding visionary", on the other hand, who wants to educate the people to take supposedly correct action in order to achieve a higher goal, is evaluated negatively overall and is not very wanted by the population.

The study shows that politicians have to solve people's problems. This desire is obvious and at the same time a huge challenge for our political leaders – both in terms of ideas and approaches as well as in terms of communication and explanation of decisions. In addition, the desire for a delegation of responsibility is clearly influenced by the experiences of the past pandemic years, in which citizens were noticeably required to make a responsible contribution to solving the problem." Albig continues: "It is now important to resolve the supposed contradictions between the two leadership styles of the people's caretaker and the demanding visionary, so that those parties that best serve the populist idea do not benefit from it

Torsten Albig, Managing Director Philip Morris Germany

The "How We Really Live" study and its methodology

Background: Since 2020, the "How We Really Live" study by Philip Morris Germany in cooperation with the Cologne-based rheingold Institute has been examining the reality of life of people in Germany. Political issues are examined, which can be used to empirically investigate developments that are problematic in terms of democratic theory.

Commitment to democratic values and tolerant coexistence in Germany

The study series is part of Philip Morris Germany's socio-political commitment. In this way, the company wants to strengthen a solution-oriented discourse that is committed to democratic values and tolerant coexistence in Germany. In recent years, the "How We Really Live" study has already examined the relationship of citizens to expertocracy and populism (2022), voting behavior and voting motivation during the Bundestag election (2021), and the relationship of people in Germany to politics (2020).

Method: In order to investigate the factors influencing the perception of successful representation, 3,015 persons eligible to vote in Germany were surveyed online in June and July of this year. In addition, the rheingold Institute conducted 36 qualitative in-depth interviews for a detailed analysis of processes and structures behind perceived representational relationships.

More information about this study

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