chapter  4
Idle democrats?
Talking about politics in Germany
WithManès Weisskircher, Swen Hutter
Pages 19

This chapter provides a brief overview of research on how Germans perceive the political process and potential to influence it. It discusses refugee and asylum policy, anti-Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership/free trade, European integration, and social and economic policies. The most important topic was refugees, asylum policy, and related topics like war in Syria and integration policies more generally. Participants’ discussions of economic and social policies reflected manifold issues such as the working of the economy, health, or wealth disparities. While participants made some positive evaluations of electoral participation, the general feeling was one of frustration and disillusionment. German participants intensively talked about the specific political and discursive context of the ‘refugee crisis’. While many participants explicitly rejected radical right-wing actors, hardly any other alternative actors were explicitly mentioned in the discussions. Many of the focus group participants were what one could call ‘idle democrats’ that refrained from trying to influence German politics.