After the election for the federal parliament in September 2017, there was a discussion in Germany: Why are there so few women in the Bundestag? We discussed the topic in a meeting and were asking ourselves: If there are not enough women in the parliament – who else is missing? How good is the parliament at representing the population of Germany? Does it fulfill its constitutional job to represent the people, all the people?
We set out to answer the question. As in many other countries, Germany encounters a growing polarisation: Some parts of the population don’t feel adressed by the political partys and their elected leaders. Maybe that’s also because they don’t find their kind in parliament. So we think this is an important discussion to have: Does the composition of the German Bundestag match the composition of the population? And if not, who is missing?
Our company has a subscription-based business modell, and we think an ambitious, innovative and relevant project like this helps to engage with our audience.
What makes this project innovative?
To do so, we created a survey and e-mailed it to every member of parliament. About 40 percent answered, so we got extensive insights into the German parliament.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
We have sophisticated internal tools in our newsroom to measure how readers engage with our stories, and this story story scored extraordinarily high.
Source and methodology
We e-mailed the survey to all 709 members of the German parliament, and sent a reminder one week later. 280 MPs filled out our questionaire, which is about 40 percent. We were surprised by that big response. Even more promising was the fact that the party distribution in our replies was almost a perfect match to the party distribution in the whole parliament. Which means our participants were evenly split over all the parties.
We completed the survey data with information already available about the MPs, as age and gender.
To compare the parliament to the people, we researched data about the general population. This data was provided by the federal stats office, by a social science research institute and other sources. While designing our survey for the MPs, we already made sure that the same information is also available for the population.
All sources: Statistisches Bundesamt, Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften, Deutscher Bundestag, Mediendienst Integration, Dalia Research, Forschungsgruppe Weltanschauungen in Deutschland, Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge
Collaborating within the team was made possible with Git, Slack and Post-its on a wall.