Behnke, Joachim: A controversial issue in the electoral reform commission of the German Bundestag: Segmented versus a proportional electoral system with an embedded element of personalized representation.
In April 2022, the electoral reform commission, implemented by the Bundestag, started to work. The commission’s essential task is to develop proposals suited to prevent the Bundestag’s augmentation. The parties CDU and CSU have suggested institutionalizing a segmented electoral system, in which the constituency seats should be determined by majority-runoff. But an electoral system of this type would miss the commission’s mandate, and it would lead to the distribution of seats in parliament being extremely distorted. The costs restoring the Bundestag to its regular size would be distributed very unequally between the parties. A segmented electoral system would furthermore violate federal proportionality and it contradicts fundamental requirements of justice and fairness. Implementing a segmented electoral system in an established and naturally grown party system contradicts essential democratic decision-making constraints. Last but not least, a segmented electoral system creates opportunities for gerrymandering and can—under certain conditions—support a polarization of the party system. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 3, pp. 479 – 506]
Hüttemann, Niclas and Eric Linhart: Interest group representation in the committees of the German Bundestag. An extension and update for the 18th election period (2013-2017).
This article extends the existing documentation of interest group activities in the committees of the German Bundestag for the 18th election period. The documentation goes beyond previous ones by including sub-committees and taking into account contacts between stakeholders and representatives also in regular committee meetings. While most figures structurally remain the same as in the 17th election period, changes can be identified in particular for committees whose responsibilities have changed. Thus, established patterns of interest group representation may also change in the context of committee re-organization. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 3, pp. 507 – 526]
Jun, Uwe and Marius Minas: The state election in the Saarland on March 27, 2022: triumph of Anke Rehlinger’s social democrats.
The SPD fully lived up to its role as a favourite and won the Saarland state election in March 2022 with an absolute majority of the seats in the state parliament. As has often been the case in recent state elections, the popularity of top candidates for the office of prime minister played a decisive role. Here, deputy Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger, who has long been rooted in Saar politics, was clearly ahead of the incumbent Tobias Hans, who had been in office for four years. The Social Democrats won voters from both the CDU and the Left- Party. The CDU never came out of the defensive in the entire election campaign, and their attempt to use Prime Minister Hans’ incumbency bonus failed. The election campaign of the Greens, the Left, and the AfD was overshadowed by constant inner-party controversies with battles over direction and trench warfare around long-standing leading figures in the respective parties. In Saarland, the FDP has always only played a subordinate role in state elections since 1990. Consequently, only the AfD managed to enter the Saarland parliament alongside the SPD and CDU. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 3, pp. 527 – 544]
Knelangen, Wilhelm: The state election in Schleswig-Holstein on May 8, 2022: from “Jamaica” to a “black-green” coalition led by the election winner Daniel Günther. Following the 2017 state election, Schleswig-Holstein had been governed by a stable coalition of the CDU, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, and the FDP, known as the “Jamaica” coalition. However, what the state parliament would look like after the elections to be held in early 2022 was completely open. The closer the election, the more it seemed that the CDU would remain the strongest party in the state. While the campaign was not marked by controversial issues, the general assessment of the parties and their top candidates was most important. Prime Minister Daniel Günther, as the guarantor of “Jamaica”, enjoyed an out- standing popular approval, and the CDU managed to achieve an exceptionally good result with 43 .4 per cent of the vote. Bündnis 90/Die Grünen became the second strongest party with 18 .3 per cent, and the FDP received only 6 .4 per cent. With significant losses, the SPD fell to 16 per cent, with 5 .7 per cent the SSW overcame the five per cent clause, and the AfD clearly failed to re-enter parliament with 4 .4 per cent. After the election, the CDU’s initial attempt to continue the “Jamaica” coalition with a supermajority quickly failed. Instead, it was followed by a two-party-coalition of the CDU and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, led by Prime Minister Günther again. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 3, pp. 545 – 564]
Bajohr, Stefan: The state election in North Rhine-Westphalia on May 15, 2022: a mere fifty-fifty turnout.
The 2022 state election in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) was dominated by problems that lay beyond the reach of state politics: the climate crisis, COVID-19, the war in Eastern Europe, and inflation rates. Regarding state issues, many voters rated school and transport policy to be the most important issues. For the so-called “traffic light” coalition in Berlin, in office since half a year, the NRW election was considered to be the acid test, which was reflected in the presence of prominent federal politicians during the election campaign. The results confirmed the CDU’s leading position and the party’s prime minister in office. In terms of the vote and percentage increases, however, only the Greens could register gains, and both the SPD and FDP had to put up with losses. Voter turnout dropped to 55 .5 per cent, signalling alienation from the political system. The proportion of women among the 195 members of the new state parliament rose to more than one-third. The new state government, formed by a coalition of the CDU and the Greens, rests almost equally on female and male shoulders and has a comfortable majority in the state parliament. It has named the fight against climate change and organized crime as the focal points of its work. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 3, pp. 565 – 583]
Kersting, Norbert: Local elections during the Covid-19 pandemic: democratic semi-lockdown as a boost for digitalization?
Representative surveys among local councillors in North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, and Lower Saxony showed the enormous effect the Covid-19 pandemic had on local politics as well as the demand for more alternative digital participatory instruments. During the local election in North Rhine-Westphalia in September 2020, in Hessen in March and in Lower Saxony in September 2021, the pandemic showed both different levels and phases of incidents. More or less strict contact restrictions, obligatory mask-wearing, tests as well as vaccination were seen as a hindrance and a democratic semi-lockdown by most councillors. Before the local elections, not only council meetings and local commissions but also party registrations, party conventions to prepare for the local elections as well as most civil society meetings were restricted. Electoral campaigning with direct contacts was nearly impossible. The survey shows that digital tools for the city councils’ information systems as well as online platforms for citizen participation were not sufficient alternatives and revealed numerous deficits. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 3, pp. 584 – 599]
Kempf, Uwe: The French presidential elections of April 10 and 24, 2022: Smoldering discontent was not enough for a change of power.
President Emmanuel Macron hesitated about his renewed presidential candidacy. According to the polls, an election victory in the second round against his fiercest rival, the far-right Marine Le Pen, was by no means certain. The election campaign was dominated by the inflation of fuel and food prices. Macron won the first round of voting ahead of Le Pen. However, her considerable success once again demonstrated the extent to which her ideas are now permanently anchored throughout the country. And yet, Macron had succeeded in being a credible alternative for a large proportion of previous voters on the left, right, and center. The once large governing and opposition parties (Gaullists and Socialists) had shrunk to insignificance. For the second round of voting, the incumbent intensified his hitherto rather restrained campaign by targeting in particular non-voters and supporters of the radical leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who had lost in the first round. Although Macron lost more than seven percentage points compared to the 2017 election and suffered losses almost everywhere in the country, he won the election with 58 .55 per cent. His far-right challenger Le Pen achieved her best-ever election result of 41 .45 per cent and made notable gains throughout the country. Some worrying trends continued: among others, a high level of abstention, especially among younger voters (29 per cent of whom did not vote) as well as the split between urban (Macron) and rural (Le Pen) voters, increasing rejection of the EU, and support for protectionism. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 3, pp. 600 – 616]
Bloquet, Claire and Anastasia Pyschny: From four to one? The left alliance’s candidate selection for the French parliamentary elections.
The 2022 legislative elections in France saw a new political player: NUPES, who won about a fourth of the National Assembly seats. This ad hoc alliance of the four main parties of the left-wing political spectrum (socialists, greens, communists, radical left) faced considerable hurdles in nominating candidates. When analyzing the extent to which these were over-come, a number of less well-known factors of the French political system are explained, and the possible effects the electoral alliance might have on the party system are explored. Based on the LEGIS-2022 dataset on candidates in the parliamentary elections, we can show that the party financing rules and the local anchoring of the parties had an impact on the internal balance of power within the Left Alliance. Although electoral successes were hardly predictable not only due to the lack of safe constituencies but also to resistance exercised within their own ranks in the form of counter-candidacies, all four left-leaning parties were able to form their own parliamentary group after the election. In this respect, the electoral alliance functioned as a useful vehicle for maximizing votes in a highly fragmented party system. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 3, pp. 617 – 632]
Kohn, Fiene: Pan-European political parties: models, benefits, and legal promotion possibilities.
For decades, political parties have accompanied and pushed for the integration of the European Union. Now, it is time for the next step: pan-European parties. Although they do not exist yet they could represent the direct strand of legitimacy best as they would be especially well suited to fulfil the duties given to political parties in Article 10 (4) TEU. In order to establish such a type of party, inequalities between party models need to be abolished by eliminating the requirement of electoral success that political parties must fulfil in order to be entered into the party registry. Targeted incentives in European election laws, in particular transnational lists, could promote the development of this extraordinarily integrative type of political parties. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 3, pp. 633 – 651]
Bitschnau, Marco: Haunted by discord: The Biden presidency and its predicaments. Not even two years after his electoral victory, US President Joe Biden finds himself in a rather dire position. While irritated allies and the humiliating Taliban takeover of Afghani- stan taint his foreign policy record, his domestic agenda has been curtailed by difficulties to win congressional majorities backing social policy reforms. In addition, the president is increasingly under pressure from an “unholy trinity” consisting of activist progressives, sceptical moderates, and resurgent Republicans who have overcome the confusion of the Trump era and have refined their tactics. Casting particular light on the Biden administration’s institutional predicaments, this contribution gives an overview of the various difficulties the president is confronted with and the possible consequences for the upcoming mid-term elections. If Biden wants to avoid Jimmy Carter’s fate, he must pacify his party and achieve meaningful victories sooner rather than later. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 3, pp. 652 – 666]
Lunau, Ralf: Burden of the past: history and conditions of the current constitutional process in Chile.
Between July 4th, 2021 and July 4th, 2022, a Constitutional Convention met in Santiago de Chile to draft a new constitution for the Republic of Chile. The convening of this body was preceded by social unrest in October 2019, which fundamentally called into question the semblance of the country’s social and political stability. Constitutional legacies from the time of the civil-military dictatorship have survived the years of transition to democracy and the rule of law and, with their long-term effects, have caused an institutional rigidness in the country that contributed significantly to the insolvability of pending social problems. The analysis of what came before the current constitutional process not only proves to be the key to understanding this process and the draft of the constitution itself. It also offers exemplary insights into the immanent contradictions of comparable transformation processes that Chile has undergone in the approximately thirty years since the end of the dictatorship. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 3, pp. 667 – 690]