eco Election Barometer: Dissatisfaction with Digital Policy Particularly High in Eastern German States

Chair of the eco Board Süme: “It is the task of politics to resolutely counteract a digital divide between East and West Germany.”

There is a high level of dissatisfaction amongst German citizens when it comes to the federal government’s digital policy: 73 percent of those surveyed in the current “Digital Policy Election Barometer” state that, when it comes to any field of digitalisation – from digital education to digital administration – they are not satisfied with the political framework conditions and solutions. The Election Barometer was developed by eco – Association of the Internet Industry together with the opinion research institute Civey, and with the support of the Vodafone Institute and the eco member companies Leaseweb and Huawei. In viewing strategic digital policy issues in the run-up to the upcoming Bundestag elections, the barometer provides an overview of the mood of Germany’s entire population, as well as the populations of the individual federal states. According to the barometer, the level of dissatisfaction is particularly high in the eastern German states. As many of these not only have federal elections coming up this year, but also state elections, Chair of the eco Board Oliver Süme recommends that the eastern German party associations in particular take the topic of digital policy more seriously.

In fact, the satisfaction scores on many digital policy issues in most of the eastern German states are even lower than the already very low national averages.

For example, while 3.1 percent of the population nationwide say they are satisfied with current policies in the areas of digital education and digital administration, in Saxony-Anhalt, where a new state parliament is to be elected next Sunday, the figure is only 2.4 percent. While the national satisfaction with the digital infrastructure is 4.4 per cent, Saxony-Anhalt has only 2.9 per cent and Thuringia 3.6 per cent. In total, 10 per cent are satisfied with the federal government’s policy in the area of promoting future technologies, while in Saxony-Anhalt the figure is only 6.6 per cent.

“This is particularly significant because, even 30 years after reunification, the eastern German states are still in a worse economic position than those in the west and have to cope with particular structural transformation challenges. There’s still a need for an economic development catch-up in eastern Germany. Digitalisation offers many opportunities to overcome these challenges more quickly and should therefore be accorded special priority,” stresses eco Chair Oliver Süme. It is the task of politics to resolutely counteract a further digital divide between western and eastern Germany, Süme continues.

“Especially in the Covid crisis year, what many people have experienced more than ever before is just how important functioning digital infrastructures and technologies – and therefore modern political framework conditions for the use of digital technologies – are for their lives and their everyday routines,” says Oliver Süme. “I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say that elections can be won based purely on digital policy, but our surveys point in a clear direction, and I would advise all parties not to underestimate the topic of digital policy in the election campaign,” says Süme.

In point of fact, in the Digital Policy Election Barometer, around 35% of respondents say that the topic of digital policy has a great or very great influence on their voting decision.

At present, however, citizens’ trust in the digital competencies of politicians is not very high. Here, too, the eastern German states rate this at a conspicuously lower level than evident from the national trend. On average, around a quarter of those surveyed said they did not trust any of the current governing parties at federal or state level to be able to successfully shape Germany’s digital transformation. In Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, around 36 percent – i.e. over 10 percent more respondents – are of this opinion, and in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania around 32 percent.

“A high level of dissatisfaction in the matter, coupled with low levels of trust in politics on the essential topic of future-oriented digitalisation, should be incentive enough for every party to enter into direct exchange with voters about digital topics and to formulate concrete policy goals for the coming legislative term,” says Oliver Süme.

*On behalf of eco, the market and opinion research institute Civey surveyed 5,090 people between 24 February and 28 April 2021. The results are representative of German residents aged 18 and over. The statistical error of the overall results is 2.5 percent.


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eco Election Barometer: Dissatisfaction with Digital Policy Particularly High in Eastern German States 1