What could turn people into politicians?

Media and election campaign

Hans-Martin Schönherr-Mann

Hans-Martin Schönherr-Mann

To person

Dr. phil. habil., born 1952; since 1996 private lecturer for political philosophy and political theory at the University of Munich; several visiting professorships at foreign universities.

Address: Augustenstrasse 15, 80333 Munich.
e-mail: [email protected]

Publications including: Postmodern theories of the political - pragmatism, communitarianism, pluralism, Munich 1996; Postmodern theories of the ethical: Political culture of debate, serenity, existentialism, Munich 1997.

For decades, politicians have been confronted with a severe loss of confidence among voters. This is certainly also related to a growing distrust of a world that has become confusing.


"How often do you trust the Washington government to do the right thing?" In 1964, 76 percent of US respondents answered this question with "always" or "mostly". Thirty years later, in 1994, it was only 25 percent. [1] For decades, politicians in the western world have been confronted with a massive loss of trust. The turnout is falling, as is the number of regular voters and members of political parties.

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  • Perhaps this trend will change after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Six months later, George W. Bush still enjoys exceptional approval ratings for his policies. It remains to be seen whether it will stay that way until the next presidential election.

    In continental Europe, where wars are met with less approval, the times of election campaigns in particular represent opportunities to regain trust that has been lost. Because in election campaigns, approval of politicians and political parties usually increases. They are present in the media everywhere and permanently for at least six months, so that politicians and parties can put themselves in the right, most favorable light with the voters. In general, trust also grows to a certain extent, which, as is well known, diminishes very quickly after the elections.

    A survey in February 2002 by Infratest dimap on behalf of ARD, Frankfurter Rundschau and eight other daily newspapers shows that half a year after September 11th and half a year before the next federal election almost all politicians have lost their reputation. Satisfaction with the federal government has also decreased. Apparently, the dramatization of the world situation by the terrorist attacks and the war in Afghanistan did not lead to a lasting increase in confidence in the government and politicians. The election campaign that is just beginning is not yet having any effect in this direction either. [2] The magazine "Focus" recently quoted a study according to which only 13 percent of German politicians trust; these are almost at the end of the range of professions that are trusted. [3]