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Party Politics in the German Bundesrat. Voting behaviour in the Bundesrat Committees


The party politicization of the Bundesrat, which is evident in the voting behaviour of the representatives of the Länder, and in the consequential down-grading of interests of individual Länder, though not intended by the founders of the Basic Law (Lehmbruch hypothesis), is an important topic of research on the political institutions of the Federal Republic. So far, however, it has remained difficult to pinpoint the exact degree of the dominance of party politics. The protocol of the plenary sessions of the Bundesrat does not register individual votes of the Länder. To test the degree of party politicization, research relied on data based on the party political composition of Land governments, and indirect evidence, such as the role of the reconciliation committee (Vermittlungsausschuss), statistical estimates, or case studies, and anecdotal evidence. Insights won in this way remain, however, remote from the locus of decision-making, the plenary sessions and the Bundesrat committees. The aim of the project is to bridge this gap by concentrating on the voting behaviour in the Bundesrat committees. Our analysis will be based on committee protocols accessible to the public. We focus on three periods, the 1950s, the 1970s, and the 2000 years. This allows us an in depth and at the same time panoramic view of party political influence on Bundesrat decisions. We test the results in a limited way for robustness by comparisons with the few cases where we know, how the Länder voted individually in the Bundesrat. We will also do some case studies and interviews for clarification.

Supported by: German Research Foundation (DFG)

Time frame: 2017 – 2019
Funding amount:  € 242.900
Project team: Prof. Dr. Roland Sturm, Hon.-Prof. Dr. Markus M. Müller, Prof. Dr. jur. Volker M. Haug, Patrick Finke, M.A., Antonios Souris, M.A., Erik Vollmann, M.A.

The Cultural Political Economy of Austerity in Germany and the United Kingdom in the Long Era of Neoliberalism . A Multimodal Corpus-Assusted Critical Realist Discourse Analysis


Austerity is hotly debated topic within the social sciences. It cannot be reduced to spending cuts, but has to be understood as a complex social phenomenon with consequences for mental health and well-being, social equality, politics and everyday life. Some observers therefore, speak of an “age of austerity”. Although the relevance of austerity is without doubt, the understandings of this phenomenon diverge dramatically. Whereas supports argue that austerity is a rational recipe for indebted societies back to fiscal sustainability and economic growth, critics see in austerity a dangerous neoliberal idea that threatens human growth. As social reality is always mediated, media play a central role within the struggle between different evaluations and constructions of austerity. Not only language, but also images play an important role within this genre. But despite radical social constructivists assertions an analysis of austerity cannot be reduced to the form of texts and images alone. On the contrary, we have to think about the role of material conditions as well because they to a large extent help us to understand the forces behind semiotic forms. The philosophical underlabourer of Critical Realism in general of the Cultural Political Economy (CPE) approach in particular try to decode this relationship between semiotic forms and material forces that is also prominently discussed these days under the heading of “new materialism”. By incorporating the material social psychology of Erich Fromm as well as the work on multimodality from a theoretical and a methodological perspective, CPE shall be developed further so that an elaborated corpus assisted critical realist discourse analysis enables a deeper understanding of austerity in the United Kingdom and Germany during the era of neoliberalism.

Supported by: Emerging Talents Initiative (ETI)UniversitätsbundVisiting Professorship Programme, Innovationsfonds Lehre

Time frame: 2017-2018

Funding amount:  € 34.248

Project team: Dr. Tim GriebelProf. Dr. Stefan Evert, Fabian Fischer, Rebecca Henle, Sophie Marie Himmler, Karolina Kohl