Referendum 'Stuttgart 21'
In 2011, the public conflict over the infrastructure project 'Stuttgart 21' reached its climax, raising fundamental questions concerning the modes of political participation and the legitimacy of political decisions. It became clear that the participation processes that had been part of the planning and approval stage were not enough to ensure the general acceptance of the project. Even after the referendum in November 2011, the debate about 'Stuttgart 21' and the democratic quality of governance in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg didn’t subside; this is hardly surprising, as participation in general (and 'Stuttgart21' in particular) was an important part of the political agenda of the green-red government. In this study, we focused on the long-term trends in acceptance, evaluation, and interest accompanying 'Stuttgart 21' and the referendum that was held in November 2011. Additionally, we examined the attitudes of citizens towards democracy and political participation in Baden-Württemberg for the entire period of the green-red government until fall 2015.
In terms of its research design, the project was designed as a follow-up to the rolling panel project “Election Study Baden-Württemberg 2011”: respondents were invited to participate in three additional waves in the immediate context of the referendum in November 2011. Furthermore, yearly waves were added in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 to track public opinion over time. Finally, six representative cross-sectional telephone surveys were included. Overall, the applied methods and collected data allowed us to trace and analyse in great detail processes of opinion formation and decision-making in a case study of direct democracy, namely in the immediate context of the referendum, but also over time. Results were (and still are) presented at academic conferences as well as meetings at different levels in the political arena in Baden-Württemberg.