Deutsche Vereinigung für Politikwissenschaft
Frist: 06.07.2020

CfP – Special Issue: The COVID-19 Pandemic in Germany

Special Issue: The COVID-19 Pandemic in Germany

Guest editors: Sebastian Jäckle (1), Markus B. Siewert (2), Janina Steinert (2) & Stefan Wurster (2)

(1) Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg; (2) TU Munich, Bavarian School for Public Policy


By the end of May 2020, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 had caused more than six million confirmed infected and 350,000 deaths worldwide according to the Johns Hopkins University, with approx. 180.000 infections and 8.300 deaths in Germany alone. Looking back at the outbreak of COVID-19, the government and health authorities but also the people in Germany showed a fair amount of reluctance towards acknowledging that the novel coronavirus would pose an imminent threat. This is exemplified in a TV statement by Jens Spahn, German Federal Minister of Health, from February 3rd 2020, who argued that “Germany is well prepared even for an Influenza pandemic“, but “with only 10 infected persons in Germany one could by no means speak of an epidemic.“

Once it became obvious that the pandemic was not containable without the implementation of strict policy measures, decisive decisions had been made quickly. The vehemence of the Corona-wave obviously surpassed not only politicians’ expectations but also changed daily-life overnight. In the absence of medical treatment against the coronavirus, Germany chose the path of going into a comprehensive economic and societal shutdown in order to avoid exceeding the capacity of the health care system – although countries like Spain, Italy or France had to take even more severe actions. While Germany had, as the end of May 2020 – compared to other European countries – relatively few infections and a much lower death toll, this did not come without dire consequences for almost every aspect of the societal, economic, and political way of life. Due to COVID-19, the world probably faces its most profound recession since the Great Depression, with heavy impact on the German economy with its dependency on export. Moreover, under the impression of the continuation of many restrictive policies the economic and social consequences of these measures are more and more discussed, with a growing opposition protesting against the current government policy.

In a nutshell, the COVID-19 pandemic has shattered normality as we knew it; against this backdrop, new questions arise and old ones which have been discussed for decades, become more urgent. In this special issue proposed to German Politics, we wish to open the debate to these numerous new research agendas. In particular, we invite paper proposals that explore the imminent management of and reactions to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the societal and political fallouts of the current situation. While the scope of possible contributions is vast, we especially call for proposals that engage with Germany as a multi-level system, exploring questions from federal, subnational, and local perspectives. Contributions should be theoretically guided and empirically grounded, and should make clear what we can learn from Germany as a case study. Potential topics for the special issue include but are not limited to:

  • What policies across various areas have been implemented at the local, state and national level to manage and mitigate the pandemic? How does Germany compare with other countries? What variation between the German Länder and/or at the local level can be observed?
  • At the level of citizens, what do Germans think about the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken by the government? Which factors shape their perceptions and attitudes? What socio-economic and spatial differences can be identified?
  • How does the COVID-19 crisis affect the political competition? To what extent have German parties tried to utilize the situation for their own sake? Who are the critics of the measures and what are their political ideas, for instance “Widerstand 2020”?
  • How did politicians and other actors at various levels communicate and/or frame the implementation of policy measures over the course of the pandemic? What leadership styles and roles can be observed during the crisis and how did it reflect upon crisis management during the pandemic?
  • What role do technological innovations play in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic? What major solutions but also obstacles are linked to certain technologies such as tracing apps, etc.?
  • How does the COVID-19 pandemic impact the future trajectory in policy fields such as health care and the economy, but also related to education, working environments, or the environment, among others?
  • How did COVID-19 change German foreign policy? What impact did the crisis have on Germany’s position within and towards the European Union? Can we observe a change in foreign aid or migration policies?
  • To what extent does the current COVID-19 crisis deepen or (re)open structural problems such as social and economic inequalities, concerning, inter alia, gender, migrants, age, etc.? In how far does the COVID-19 pandemic impose a stress test to the representative democracy in Germany?


If interested, please submit your paper proposal (max. 200 words outlining topic and research design) by July 6th 2020 to markus.siewerthfp.tumde. Based on the submissions, the team of guest editors will select 10-12 papers that have the potential to contribute innovative insights and also speak to each other. Once the special issue proposal gets final approval from the editors of German Politics, the selected papers have to undergo the regular peer review process.