Scholars have increasingly argued for an integration of policies on agriculture and water due to their strong interlinkage. The entry of agricultural pollutants into water represents one of the main pressures on Europe’s ground and surface waters. This not only poses a risk to the environment and human health but also jeopardizes meeting the targets set by the EU Water Framework Directive. Research on the political agenda setting has shown that issue salience is key for triggering policy change. Nevertheless, Germany has repeatedly failed to adopt adequate policy measures despite the salience of the issue among the German public and increasing pressure by the EU. In this study, I shed light on the positioning of political parties in Germany on agricultural pollutants to explain the absence of policy change. More specifically, I ask whether there is an ideological division between political parties that hampers the adoption of effective, integrated policy measures. A qualitative content analysis of election manifestos published between 1998 and 2018 finds that political parties’ policy positions are predominantly influenced by their placement on an environmental and an economic ideological dimension. As a result, political parties in Germany advocate conflictive policy approaches, which is detrimental to the adoption of effective policy measures.
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