The contribution survey research can make to the decision-making process

Date of publication: June 15, 1983


The following paper reports on a dialogue held between the President of the German Constitutional Court and the author. This dialogue was set in motion indirectly by an article the author published in 1979 in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung about the reactions of the German population to the divorce legislation reform which came into force in 1977. At the time, several law suits had already been filed with the Federal Constitutional Court about the new rulings. In December 1981 the President of the Constitutional Court, Ernst Benda, presented a paper entitled "Consensus, Opinion Research and the Constitution" in which he investigated the contribution opinion research can make to the work of the Federal Constitutional Court, and in particular toward ensuring a basic consensus of views, e.g. that a certain minimum level of agreement be attained, even in the present difficult situation of rapid social change. In this paper, the President described how the survey results reported in the Frankfurter Allgmeine Zeitung helped the court understand why it had been so difficult for the new divorce legislation to gain acceptance in practice.

Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann


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