Anja Herkner
Institute of Rural Studies

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

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 - 12.2019

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: finished

Publications to the project

hits: 3

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. Deppisch L, Klärner A, Osigus T (2019) Ist die AfD in ländlichen Räumen besonders erfolgreich? Wissen Schafft Demokratie 5:74-87
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 377 kb