Institute of Rural Studies

Deputy Director


Anja Herkner

Bundesallee 64
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 5501
Fax: +49 531 596 5599

Institute of Rural Economics

Deputy Director

  • NN

Stability and Acceptance of the Democratic System in Rural Areas


Sign "election/choice" (c) Mathias Richter -
Sign "election/choice", meadow and forest in the background (© Mathias Richter -

Is voting behavior different in rural areas and in urban areas? Is there a lower voter turnout in rural areas? Are people there more discontent with democracy? Are populist parties more successful in rural areas? These are lead question of a new research project at Thünen Institute.


Background and Objective

Public media recently reported on political radicalization processes and a lower voter turnout in certain areas of Germany. They argue that people in structurally weak regions feel “left behind” and thus back off from democracy and politics or turn toward populist movements and parties.

The research project “Stability and Acceptance of the Democratic System in Rural Areas” investigates these claims and asks whether there are “feelings of being left behind” that are specific to rural areas and which factors influence them.

The aim of the project is to analyze the complex processes of rural development, social and demographic change and a potentially decreasing acceptance and stability of the democratic system. Drawing on our results we will give policy recommendations on improving living conditions and satisfaction among the rural population, reducing social inequality, and strengthening political and social integration.


In this project we use quantitative methods to analyze election results on a small regional scale.

Our Research Questions

  • Is there a specific form of endangerment to the stability and acceptance of the democratic system in rural areas?
  • Which aspects of social and spatial contexts affect social integration and quality of life of people in rural areas, and how does that influence political radicalization and alienation from democracy?

Links and Downloads

The project is closely linked to other projects on “Poverty and Social Integration in Rural Areas, and ’Feelings of Being Left Behind’ in Rural Areas?.


Involved Thünen-Partners


1.2018 - 12.2022

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: ongoing

Publications to the project

Results 1 - 5 of 6

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  1. Klärner A, Osigus T (2021) Ergebnisse der Bundestagswahl 2021: ländliche Räume im Fokus. Agra Europe (Bonn) 62(44):D72-86
  2. Klärner A, Osigus T (2021) Ergebnisse der Bundestagswahl 2021: ländliche Räume im Fokus. Braunschweig: Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, 35 p, Thünen Working Paper 181, DOI:10.3220/WP1634627943000
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 3175 kb
  3. Deppisch L, Osigus T, Klärner A (2021) How rural is rural populism? On the spatial understanding of rurality for analyses of right-wing populist election success in Germany. Rural Sociol:in Press, DOI:10.1111/ruso.12397
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 705 kb
  4. Deppisch L, Klärner A, Küpper P, Neumeier S, Osigus T (2020) Von der Erzählung vom "abgehängten ländlichen Raum" : Was uns ein Blick auf Strukturdaten verrät. Akt Analysen 76:40-51
  5. Kleiner T-M, Klärner A (2019) Bürgerschaftliches Engagement in ländlichen Räumen : politische Hoffnungen, empirische Befunde und Forschungsbedarf. Braunschweig: Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, 51 p, Thünen Working Paper 129, DOI:10.3220/WP1569323235000
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 1600 kb

Results 1 - 5 of 6

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