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The E-Petition Platform of the German Bundestag
Dr. Jan-Hinrik Schmidt
(& Katharina Johnsen)
Hamburg  13.01.2015
E-petitions: Different settings
E-petitions (1) are located in different contexts of political decision-making and
(2) are employed by different actors
Informal & ad-hoc
expression of opinions
Formal procedures of
participation connected to
legislating institutions
Actors: Long-term, coordinated, strategic organisation of interests
Actors: Ad-hoc-aggregation of individual people („swarm“ / „crowd“)
E-Petition of mid-
wife organizations to
the Bundestag
E-Petition on
openpetition.de to
fire Markus Lanz as
talkshow host
E-Petition on
„Energiewende“ as part of
a campact.de – campaign
Hamburg 2 of 16
E-Petition Platform of the German Bundestag (1/2)
 2005: German Bundestag started E-Petition Platform as a pilot project
 2008: After sucessful evaluation the platform went into regular operations
 August/September 2012: relaunch of the platform; changes to the discussion
area of petitions and option to sign petitions pseudonymously were introduced
Hamburg 3 of 16
E-Petition Platform of the German Bundestag (2/2)
Hamburg 4 of 16
Data Sources of Study
1. Database of platform
• 2.653 Petitions, started after 13.10.2008 and before 1.2.2013
• ~ 1,32 Mil. users
• ~ 3,48 Mil. individual signatures
2. Online survey of platform users
• Field time: 2. August - 29. September 2013
• Questionnaire was announced on main page of the platform („recent
announcements“); additional announcements spread via Twitter, blogs and boards
• 724 users visited the front page of the questionnaire
• 33,7% finished questionnaire (n=244)
 Relatively small sample, especially problematic for analysis in subgroups
 No representativity; presumably regular users and more active users are over-
represented; casual users and those visiting petitions directly under-represented
Hamburg 5 of 16
Central Questions
1. How many signatures do petitions get?
2. What are the users‘ reasons to sign a petition?
3. What impact did the introduction of pseudonymous signatures have?
Hamburg 6 of 16
0
20000
40000
60000
80000
100000
120000
140000
160000
1
56
111
166
221
276
331
386
441
496
551
606
661
716
771
826
881
936
991
1046
1101
1156
1211
1266
1321
1376
1431
1486
1541
1596
1651
1706
1761
1816
1871
1926
1981
2036
2091
2146
2201
2256
2311
2366
2421
2476
2531
2586
2641
Number of signatures per petition
Signatures per petition…
… on average: 1.311 (SD 6.350; Median 351)
> 10.000 signees: 46 petitions
> 50.000 signees: 11 petitions
Maximum: 133.445 (#zensursula)
Ø signers/day 33,4 (SD 163,56)
 No significant correlation with age of platform in months,
i.e. no general „knowledge of platform“ effect
Hamburg 7 of 16
Significant differences between different topics
33.7
118.2
63.6
56.7
41.6
36.4
35.6
32.9
25.8
25.7
23
20.1
13.7
12.5
12.2
17.6
36
35.1
16.5
17
14.5
12.9
12.8
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140
Insgesamt
Media (1,9)
Environment (6,2)
Justice (12,7)
Health (12,7)
Education & Science (2,6)
Parliament & Government (2,5)
Social affairs (9,4)
Finance & taxes (12,4)
Consumer protection (5,2)
Domestic affairs (5,4)
Economy (7,6)
Labor (12,1)
Traffic (8,1)
Other (1,3)
Avg. (with outliers) Avg. (without outliers)
Fig. 1: No. of signatures per day (avg.) for different topics (n = 2582 / 2628)
n=2582 / 2628
Topics:
• ‚manual coding“ based on the categories
given in the title of petition
• (in brackets) % of all petitions
Hamburg 8 of 16
The „Spill-Over-Effect“
18.5
19.1
9.6
16.3
0 10 20 30 40 50
overlap with "10.000+
petition" (b)
overlap with "50.000+
petition" (a)
no Overlap Overlap
n=2607 (a) F=6,908 df=1; **; (b) F=30,494 df=1; ***
• Jungherr/Jürgens (2010) found that petitions which overlap with a popular
petition will get more signatures (1)
• Spill-over-effect is visible in our data as well
Fig 2.: Signatures per day (avg.)
(1) Jungherr, Andreas / Jürgens, Pascal (2010): The Political Click: Political Participation through E-
Petitions in Germany. Policy & Internet, Vol. 2, Issue 4, p. 131-165. Hamburg 9 of 16
Central Questions
1. How many signatures do petitions get?
2. What are the users‘ reasons to sign a petition?
3. What impact did the introduction of pseudonymous signatures have?
Hamburg 10 of 16
“I signed the last petition, because ...“
Reasons for signing a petition (avg. of 4-pt-scale)
3.24
3.44
3.5
3.54
3.85
1 2 3 4
… E-Petitions can be signed without much effort.
… it expressed my already existing opinion.
… its concern and arguments convinced me.
… I want to have its concern discussed publicly.
… I want the Bundestag to deal with the concern.
Answers given on a 4-point-Likert scale from 1 („Disagree completely“) to 4 („Agree completely“);
inverted from questionnaire; Average without „Don‘t know“;. n=208-214




Hamburg 11 of 16
Central Questions
1. How many signatures do petitions get?
2. What are the users‘ reasons to sign a petition?
3. What impact did the introduction of pseudonymous signatures have?
Hamburg 12 of 16
 “How do you usually sign E-Petitions on the platform?“
Signing petitions: Real Names vs. Pseudonyms (%)
27
13.5
11.2
16.7
31.6
0 20 40 60 80 100
Always with a pseudonym
Usually with a pseudonym
Sometimes with a pseudonym, sometimes
with my real name
Usually with my real name
Always with my real name
Share in %; n=215 Hamburg 13 of 16
Signing petitions: Share of Real Names vs. Pseudonyms
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
1 4 7 10 13 16 19 22 25 28 31 34 37 40 43 46 49 52 55 58 61 64 67 70 73 76 79 82 85 88 91 94 97 100
%ofpetitionswhohaveXpercentclearname
signatures
How many % of the users use clear names?
After the relaunch in fall ´12, no petition had
more than 50 % share of real name signatures
Most petitions have around 20-30% real names
Ø signers/day 33,4 (SD 163,56)
before 16.8.2012 32,8 (SD 158,24)
after 16.8.2012 39,9 (SD 209,10)
 slight, but statistically not significant effect of
switch to pseudonymous signing
 i.e. no general „mobilisation of those
formerly deterred“ effect
Hamburg 14 of 16
Conclusion and Outlook
 The analysis provides first insights into the use of the E-Petition platform of
the German Bundestag
 Most E-Petitions acquire very few signatures („long tail“), only a handful has
reached more than 10.000 signers or even the quorum
 „Success“ of a petition depends on topic, but also on temporal coincidence with
other popular petitions
 Signers want to bring the issue of the petition to the attention of the German
Bundestag; technical ease to find and sign petitions online is a contributing factor
to sign, but apparently not the main driver
 After relaunch, pseudonymous signatures are default setting; as a result, majority
of signatures is pseudonymously, but no significant increase of overall signatures
 Possible follow-up research
 Deeper inspection of petition practices and motivations (e.g. via in-depth
interviews)
 Comparing Bundestag dataset to other petition platforms (e.g. openpetition.de,
change.org, …)
 … Hamburg 15 of 16
Thank you very much!
Dr. Jan-Hinrik Schmidt
Hans-Bredow-Institut
Rothenbaumchaussee 38, 20148 Hamburg
j.schmidt@hans-bredow-institut.de
www.hans-bredow-institut.de
www.schmidtmitdete.de
www.dasneuenetz.de
Hamburg 16 of 16

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German Bundestag E-Petition Platform

  • 1. The E-Petition Platform of the German Bundestag Dr. Jan-Hinrik Schmidt (& Katharina Johnsen) Hamburg  13.01.2015
  • 2. E-petitions: Different settings E-petitions (1) are located in different contexts of political decision-making and (2) are employed by different actors Informal & ad-hoc expression of opinions Formal procedures of participation connected to legislating institutions Actors: Long-term, coordinated, strategic organisation of interests Actors: Ad-hoc-aggregation of individual people („swarm“ / „crowd“) E-Petition of mid- wife organizations to the Bundestag E-Petition on openpetition.de to fire Markus Lanz as talkshow host E-Petition on „Energiewende“ as part of a campact.de – campaign Hamburg 2 of 16
  • 3. E-Petition Platform of the German Bundestag (1/2)  2005: German Bundestag started E-Petition Platform as a pilot project  2008: After sucessful evaluation the platform went into regular operations  August/September 2012: relaunch of the platform; changes to the discussion area of petitions and option to sign petitions pseudonymously were introduced Hamburg 3 of 16
  • 4. E-Petition Platform of the German Bundestag (2/2) Hamburg 4 of 16
  • 5. Data Sources of Study 1. Database of platform • 2.653 Petitions, started after 13.10.2008 and before 1.2.2013 • ~ 1,32 Mil. users • ~ 3,48 Mil. individual signatures 2. Online survey of platform users • Field time: 2. August - 29. September 2013 • Questionnaire was announced on main page of the platform („recent announcements“); additional announcements spread via Twitter, blogs and boards • 724 users visited the front page of the questionnaire • 33,7% finished questionnaire (n=244)  Relatively small sample, especially problematic for analysis in subgroups  No representativity; presumably regular users and more active users are over- represented; casual users and those visiting petitions directly under-represented Hamburg 5 of 16
  • 6. Central Questions 1. How many signatures do petitions get? 2. What are the users‘ reasons to sign a petition? 3. What impact did the introduction of pseudonymous signatures have? Hamburg 6 of 16
  • 7. 0 20000 40000 60000 80000 100000 120000 140000 160000 1 56 111 166 221 276 331 386 441 496 551 606 661 716 771 826 881 936 991 1046 1101 1156 1211 1266 1321 1376 1431 1486 1541 1596 1651 1706 1761 1816 1871 1926 1981 2036 2091 2146 2201 2256 2311 2366 2421 2476 2531 2586 2641 Number of signatures per petition Signatures per petition… … on average: 1.311 (SD 6.350; Median 351) > 10.000 signees: 46 petitions > 50.000 signees: 11 petitions Maximum: 133.445 (#zensursula) Ø signers/day 33,4 (SD 163,56)  No significant correlation with age of platform in months, i.e. no general „knowledge of platform“ effect Hamburg 7 of 16
  • 8. Significant differences between different topics 33.7 118.2 63.6 56.7 41.6 36.4 35.6 32.9 25.8 25.7 23 20.1 13.7 12.5 12.2 17.6 36 35.1 16.5 17 14.5 12.9 12.8 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 Insgesamt Media (1,9) Environment (6,2) Justice (12,7) Health (12,7) Education & Science (2,6) Parliament & Government (2,5) Social affairs (9,4) Finance & taxes (12,4) Consumer protection (5,2) Domestic affairs (5,4) Economy (7,6) Labor (12,1) Traffic (8,1) Other (1,3) Avg. (with outliers) Avg. (without outliers) Fig. 1: No. of signatures per day (avg.) for different topics (n = 2582 / 2628) n=2582 / 2628 Topics: • ‚manual coding“ based on the categories given in the title of petition • (in brackets) % of all petitions Hamburg 8 of 16
  • 9. The „Spill-Over-Effect“ 18.5 19.1 9.6 16.3 0 10 20 30 40 50 overlap with "10.000+ petition" (b) overlap with "50.000+ petition" (a) no Overlap Overlap n=2607 (a) F=6,908 df=1; **; (b) F=30,494 df=1; *** • Jungherr/Jürgens (2010) found that petitions which overlap with a popular petition will get more signatures (1) • Spill-over-effect is visible in our data as well Fig 2.: Signatures per day (avg.) (1) Jungherr, Andreas / Jürgens, Pascal (2010): The Political Click: Political Participation through E- Petitions in Germany. Policy & Internet, Vol. 2, Issue 4, p. 131-165. Hamburg 9 of 16
  • 10. Central Questions 1. How many signatures do petitions get? 2. What are the users‘ reasons to sign a petition? 3. What impact did the introduction of pseudonymous signatures have? Hamburg 10 of 16
  • 11. “I signed the last petition, because ...“ Reasons for signing a petition (avg. of 4-pt-scale) 3.24 3.44 3.5 3.54 3.85 1 2 3 4 … E-Petitions can be signed without much effort. … it expressed my already existing opinion. … its concern and arguments convinced me. … I want to have its concern discussed publicly. … I want the Bundestag to deal with the concern. Answers given on a 4-point-Likert scale from 1 („Disagree completely“) to 4 („Agree completely“); inverted from questionnaire; Average without „Don‘t know“;. n=208-214     Hamburg 11 of 16
  • 12. Central Questions 1. How many signatures do petitions get? 2. What are the users‘ reasons to sign a petition? 3. What impact did the introduction of pseudonymous signatures have? Hamburg 12 of 16
  • 13.  “How do you usually sign E-Petitions on the platform?“ Signing petitions: Real Names vs. Pseudonyms (%) 27 13.5 11.2 16.7 31.6 0 20 40 60 80 100 Always with a pseudonym Usually with a pseudonym Sometimes with a pseudonym, sometimes with my real name Usually with my real name Always with my real name Share in %; n=215 Hamburg 13 of 16
  • 14. Signing petitions: Share of Real Names vs. Pseudonyms 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 1 4 7 10 13 16 19 22 25 28 31 34 37 40 43 46 49 52 55 58 61 64 67 70 73 76 79 82 85 88 91 94 97 100 %ofpetitionswhohaveXpercentclearname signatures How many % of the users use clear names? After the relaunch in fall ´12, no petition had more than 50 % share of real name signatures Most petitions have around 20-30% real names Ø signers/day 33,4 (SD 163,56) before 16.8.2012 32,8 (SD 158,24) after 16.8.2012 39,9 (SD 209,10)  slight, but statistically not significant effect of switch to pseudonymous signing  i.e. no general „mobilisation of those formerly deterred“ effect Hamburg 14 of 16
  • 15. Conclusion and Outlook  The analysis provides first insights into the use of the E-Petition platform of the German Bundestag  Most E-Petitions acquire very few signatures („long tail“), only a handful has reached more than 10.000 signers or even the quorum  „Success“ of a petition depends on topic, but also on temporal coincidence with other popular petitions  Signers want to bring the issue of the petition to the attention of the German Bundestag; technical ease to find and sign petitions online is a contributing factor to sign, but apparently not the main driver  After relaunch, pseudonymous signatures are default setting; as a result, majority of signatures is pseudonymously, but no significant increase of overall signatures  Possible follow-up research  Deeper inspection of petition practices and motivations (e.g. via in-depth interviews)  Comparing Bundestag dataset to other petition platforms (e.g. openpetition.de, change.org, …)  … Hamburg 15 of 16
  • 16. Thank you very much! Dr. Jan-Hinrik Schmidt Hans-Bredow-Institut Rothenbaumchaussee 38, 20148 Hamburg j.schmidt@hans-bredow-institut.de www.hans-bredow-institut.de www.schmidtmitdete.de www.dasneuenetz.de Hamburg 16 of 16

Editor's Notes

  1. Notizen: