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12 theses by Gerhard Vowe

How digitised was the 2021 federal election campaign?

Gerhard Vowe looks at the 2021 Bundestag election campaign.

9. December 2021

In the article “How digitalised was the 2021 Bundestag election campaign? Zwölf Thesen” (Twelve Theses), he discusses central facets of the digitalisation of the election campaign. The result: the election campaign was less digitised than expected. The article is published in the current issue of the Zeitschrift für Parteienwissenschaften.


The digitisation of the election campaign has many facets, twelve of which are discussed in the article. The pandemic initially forced all those involved in the election into digitality, triggering steep learning curves, but did little to shape the final phase of the campaign. The scandalisation of Laschet’s laughter in Erftstadt was of decisive importance for the election campaign. However, it was only possible because the voters’ and journalists’ ideas of Laschet crystallised in this image. Overall, digital media continued to gain space in voter targeting and supporter mobilisation. In particular, microtargeting by means of social network media has become routine. Digital media were of great importance for the election results of individual parties in different directions. The AfD, for example, was able to maintain its core voter potential because it communicated intensively digitally, bypassing the established media. And the SPD was also able to make gains because a self-commitment to digital restraint prevailed in the party. And last but not least: Contrary to many fears, the legitimacy of the election was not even remotely threatened by digital tools.

Vowe, G. (2021). Wie digitalisiert war der Bundestagswahlkampf 2021? Zwölf Thesen. MIP Zeitschrift für Parteienwissenschaft, 27(2), 215-229.