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City, Countryside, ... Differences?

Political Attitudes from Big Cities to Rural Areas - Results from Representative Surveys

Voting behavior reflects clear urban-rural differences: The CDU/CSU and the AfD score higher in rural areas, while the Green party does better in urban areas. How can these effects be explained? Using representative survey data, our study shows that urban-rural differences in party sympathies and slight differences in political attitudes could provide an explanation for the different electoral success of the parties according to urban-rural areas.

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In Germany, there are rarely clear differences in attitudes according to socio-demographic characteristics. One exception is voting behaviour, where gender, age and education effects are visible. There are also differences in voting behaviour according to urban-rural areas: the CDU/CSU parties and the AfD achieve above-average results with increasing ruralness, while the opposite is true for the Greens in particular. This study uses representative survey data to examine the extent to which people in urban and rural areas also differ in terms of (political) attitudes, value preferences and fears of threats. Although there are no contrasts, urban-rural differences are evident:

  • The CDU receives the most sympathy in rural areas. However, it is also liked rather than rejected in more densely populated regions and cities. In large cities, affection and rejection are in balance.
  • The Green party polarizes more strongly: they are rejected by a majority in the countryside and liked by a majority in the city.
  • The AfD is rejected by a majority everywhere. However, it is more strongly rejected in large cities (82%) than in rural areas (67%).
  • Although there are no contrasts in political attitudes towards combating climate change, immigration and the relationship between the welfare state and taxes, there are linear urban-rural differences.
  • Urban and rural areas both tend towards further European integration, but with nuances. City residents show stronger support, while rural areas show a somewhat more reserved attitude.
  • Satisfaction with democracy is lower in rural areas than in cities. Conflicts between urban and rural areas are perceived more strongly in rural than in urban areas.
  • There are hardly any urban-rural differences when it comes to values or feelings of threat. Only the importance of customs and traditions and concerns about immigration increase with increasing ruralness.
  • Climate protection attitudes vary between urban and rural areas, but not the commitment to climate-friendly behaviour in everyday life. There are differences in dietary preferences and the avoidance of car journeys.

These and other detailed findings can be found in the full study "Stadt, Land, ... Unterschiede?" here as a PDF.

Please note, to date the study is only available in German.

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Dominik Hirndorf

Dominik Hirndorf

Electoral and Social Research +49 30 26996-3858


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About this series

The Monitor series deals with one main topic at a time from the perspective of KAS experts and places it in the political and social context on the basis of a few key points.

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The current main topics are “Development policy”, “Sustainability” and “Election and social research”. The contributions of these sub-series are presented for you on separate overview pages in addition to the overall series.