Study: Electoral programs are becoming more and more incomprehensible | free press

This year’s party platforms are longer and more difficult to understand than in previous federal elections. A study has now found that the trend is continuing.

Stuttgart (dpa) – According to a study conducted in Stuttgart, parties’ electoral platforms for federal elections are more comprehensive than ever – but they are also more difficult to understand than any other programs in German history.

According to the study’s authors, upcoming election programs included wild words and tapeworm sentences of up to 79 words, according to the University of Stuttgart in Hohenheim.

“The understandability of electoral platforms often leaves much to be desired,” says communications scientist Frank Bretschneider, summarizing the study’s findings. “Only in 1994 were the programs on average more poorly understood.” For the analysis, his team used software for complex words or nested sentences. This analysis is part of a long-term project in which, since the federal elections in 1949, all 83 electoral platforms of parties represented in the German Bundestag or in three state parliaments have been examined.

Another result: “election platforms go on and on,” Bretschneider explains. In the first federal election in 1949, parties still crafted their plans with an average of 5,498 words, and now there are 43,541 words per program — eight times that number.

The results are worse than in the last federal election in 2017. “This is disappointing,” says Bretschneider. “Because all parties have made transparency and proximity to the citizen their flag in recent years.” But with their “election platforms that are sometimes difficult to absorb”, they excluded a large part of the electorate.

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