On the Use of the E-Petition Platform of the German Bundestag

49 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2014  

Jan-Hinrik Schmidt

Hans-Bredow-Institute for Media Research

Katharina Johnsen

Hans-Bredow-Institute for Media Research

Date Written: June 2, 2014

Abstract

E-Petitions have become an important aspect of political participation via the Internet, allowing citizens to publicly support political issues. This paper reports findings from a study on the E-Petition Platform of the German Bundestag, combining an analysis of the platform's database (period: October 2008 to January 2013; n = 2,653 petitions) and an online survey among the platform users (Fieldtime: August/September 2013, n = 244 participants). It reports findings on signature patterns over time as well as between different topical areas, among them evidence for a very uneven distribution of signatures across petitions, for a “spill-over effect” where popular petitions draw attention to the platform to the benefit of other petitions, and for a higher activity of male users. The study also investigated the effect of the introduction of the pseudonymous co-signing option in 2012: No significant change in the amount of signatures was observed, but the majority of co-signers are having a pseudonym rather than their real name displayed in the public list of signatures. This seems to be mainly a “default effect”, but results from the survey also show that users consider pseudonymous signatures as serious as real-name support.

Keywords: Political participation, e-petition, online petition, German Bundestag

Suggested Citation

Schmidt, Jan-Hinrik and Johnsen, Katharina, On the Use of the E-Petition Platform of the German Bundestag (June 2, 2014). HIIG Discussion Paper Series No. 2014-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2444672 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2444672

Jan-Hinrik Schmidt (Contact Author)

Hans-Bredow-Institute for Media Research ( email )

Rothenbaumchaussee 36
Hamburg, 20148
Germany

Katharina Johnsen

Hans-Bredow-Institute for Media Research ( email )

Rothenbaumchaussee 36
Hamburg, 20148
Germany

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