Sozialer Protest zwischen Deprivation und Populismus. Eine Untersuchung zu den Hartz IV-Demonstrationen


  • Beate Küpper
  • Andreas Zick
  • Alexandra Kühn



In autumn 2004 massive protests against reforms of the unemployment benefit — known as the „Hartz IV reform“ — rose overall in Germany. Shortly afterwards, right-wing-extremist parties were substantially successful in the following federal elections. Not only politicians, but also theories of deprivation and disintegration indicate a causal relationship in presuming that unemployment leads to an affinity with right-wing political parties. We analyzed the relation of unemployment and political affinity (political orientation, negative evaluation of the established parties and voting intention) with respect to right-wing and left-wing populism. 1150 individuals, participating in demonstrations in East- and West-Germany, were interviewed with standardized questionnaires. As hypothesized, unemployment influenced political affinity.

However, it turned out that the actual state of occupation hardly had an effect. More in detail, subjective fears of unemployment by those, who are in work, and subjective fears to be directly or indirectly concerned by Hartz IV by those, who are not employed, count for political affinity with specific patterns for East and West Germans. While only some of the differences between East- and West-German participants can be explained by differences in objective and subjective deprivation, the effect of deprivation is mainly explained by the agreement with right- and especially left-wing populism. On the whole, only a small proportion of variance of political affinity can be explained by East-West origin, state of occupation and populism.