Local Political Messages in an Era of Nationalized Political Communication
SUSAN E. SCARROW*
University of Houston, United States
Editors' note: Scarrow's analysis of the campaign activities of local party branches in Germany is quite revealing. Given the spatial proximity of the party's adherents and potential supporters, Geser's analysis predicts that local sections of political parties would be especially prone to specialize in face-to-face contacts and very informal, personalized activities, whereas parties at higher levels would focus more on indirect contacts, using national media, direct mail campaigns, and the like. But Scarrow's analysis of survey data shows that such expectations are not fully borne out. Such informal contacts as door-to-door canvassing are rare, despite proddings from the central party. Mediated forms of communication are used almost to the same degree as on supralocal party levels. Scarrow concludes that local election campaigns in Germany are mainly conducted as a kind of routinized "civic ritual" (providing periodical political legitimization), not as rational strategies for reaching effectively specific political goals.
The year 1994 was dubbed Germany's "super-election year" because it brought the convergence of an unprecedented number of elections for all____________________