Feb 122014
 

Germany’s Eurosceptic AfD is expected to do well in the European Elections, at least by German standards: They are projected to clear the three per cent threshold, which would above all give them access to public funds and more PR opportunities.

After I called them ‘anti-European’ on public radio, upset party members have been in touch (and all over facebook) to inform me that they are ‘anti-EU’ (or rather against the EU in its present shape), but not against ‘Europe’ per se.  They even claimed that they are pro-European, in a fashion. Hm.

I duly decided to mend my ways and read their manifesto front to back, but as it turns out, there is neither a proper manifesto (again, by German standards) nor something specific to the EP2014. All they have on their website is the 14 pt/4 page document they had quickly drawn up just in time for the German general election that was held last September (a legal requirement for fielding lists).

Wordle: AFD-Programm

So I extracted  the text from this PDF and made a wordle from it  (incidentally, wordle.net suggested  typsetting the result in Fraktur, but I decided that would create a certain bias). As you can see, ‘fordern’ (demand) is the most frequent word, which results from the heavy use of litany in this short text. The second most important word is ‘Deutschland’. Euro and EU also feature, but they are on par with ‘Kinder’ (children) and ‘education’ (Bildung), issues over which ‘Europe’ has no jurisdiction.

This is not an artifact of the party’s name (which appears only twice in the text). ‘EU-/Eurosceptic’ they may be,  but this rather goes to show that the party seems very much concerned with Germany and German politics. Right now, different factions within the party – conservatives, liberals, whatnot – try to define what the AfD stands for. It will be interesting to see what future party documents will tell us about this struggle.

Jan 132013
 

Every now and then, I spend a merry evening pulling half-forgotten manuscripts/preprints into this not-so-new website. So here is tonight’s potpourri:

 

May 282009
 

With the upcoming EP elections, I felt obliged to check out the profiler sites my colleagues have put on the internet. I started with Germany’s wahl-o-mat that has been around for a number of years. After evaluating 30 statements, the program decided that I should vote for the German Liberals, which was not such a big surprise. The Bavarian Christian Democrats and the New Left Party were the biggest distance away from my ideal point, not least because my preferences seem to be more pro-European than these parties.

Why I should vote for the LibDems (maybe)

Why I should vote for the LibDems (maybe)

Given that I’m going to vote in the UK, I next tried the EU Profiler, which is an international project that aims at providing the relevant information on party positions for all 27 member states. After evaluating a new set of another 30 items, I was presented with a fancy two-dimensional graph that shows that I should vote for the UK LibDems, although they look more like my least-bad option since the policy space around my ideal point is not exactly crowded. This is because I am luke-warm (but warm) when it comes to European Integration plus a bit of a lefty when it comes to the “socioeconomic” dimension. This dimension, however, looks a bit dodgy, because according to the map, the Tories would be ever so slightly to the left of Labour. Well, maybe they are. At least no one suggest that I should vote UKIP or BNP (who sent me a flyer the other week, suggesting that all those immigrants should leave the UK).

In a bold move I switched from British to German parties and was a little surprised to learn that I should vote New Left, which is reasonably close to my ideal point while the Liberals are rather far away. So it would seem that I suffer from a national-political personality split.

Should I vote for the Left party?!?

Should I vote for the Left party?!?

Still not content with the results, I returned to the wahl-o-mat and discovered that they too have teamed-up with researchers from other countries, meaning that we have apparently two competing pan-European profiler projects. So I answered a final UK-specific questionnaire and was reassured that I should indeed vote for the LibDems, though apparently for different reasons.

While their accuracy of the results might be debatable, these tools provide a lot of information and are great fun.

Mar 212008
 

Last year, the “Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie and Sozialpsychologie” published an article on the level of support for the European Union’s core principles (democracy, gender equality, religious freedom, rule of law) in Turkey. In essence, the author claimed that the level of support for these principles in Turkey is low because a) the level of economic development is low while b) the number of Muslims is very high. Thanks to the very efficient PR office at the university of Cologne, these findings made their way into the mainstream media in Germany (including the English service of the Deutsche Welle) and Turkey and eventually even into the more shady parts of the blogosphere (that are normally the object rather than the consumer of sociological studies).

I felt, however, that the analysis suffered from a whole host of serious methodological and theoretical shortcomings, and that the claims of the original paper are untenable. Therefore, I wrote a comment on “Paßt die Türkei zur EU und die EU zu Europa” (in German, also as PDF). The Kölner Zeitschrift has recently accepted my article, and it will appear in the next issue. Replication data and stata scripts for my paper are available, too.

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