Englischsprachige Abstracts der aktuellen Ausgabe der ZParl

Heinrich, Roberto, Stefan Merz and Anja Miriam Simon: The state election in Rhineland-Palatinate on March 14, 2021: Popular Minister President ensures SPD success.
The state election in Rhineland-Palatinate, which took place on the same day as the election in Baden-Württemberg, was safe to gain nationwide attention. It was perceived as a first test of the political mood for the federal election in the fall and, in addition, the first election held under Covid-19 pandemic conditions. Not surprisingly, the proportion of absentee voters increased significantly and reached a new nationwide high. The social democrats emerged as the strongest political force for the seventh time in a row with a share of 35.7 percent of the vote. As in 2016, Minister President Malu Dreyer in particular guaranteed the SPD’s success. Despite slight losses, the SPD was well ahead of the CDU, which, with its top candidate Christian Baldauf, fell to a new historic low in Rhineland-Palatinate with a result of 27.7 percent. The AfD did not benefit from the SPD and CDU losses and dropped to fourth place with 8.3 percent. The election winners were the Greens, who achieved their second-best state election result of 9.3 percent, and the Free Voters, who for the first time entered the Rhineland-Palatinate parliament and won 5.4 percent of the vote. The Liberals achieved a share of 5.5 percent of the vote. For the first time, six parties are represented in the state parliament. Since none of the three coalition partners questioned a continuation of the coalition of SPD, Greens, and Liberals at any point in time, negotiations started quickly. The new government took office on May 18. [ZParl, vol. 52 (2021), no. 3, pp. 481 – 499]

Eith, Ulrich and Thomas Waldvogel: The state elections in Baden-Württemberg on March 14, 2021: The Greens assure their position ahead of the CDU.
In the state elections on March 14, 2021 in Baden-Württemberg, the Greens, with Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann, were again able to assert themselves as the strongest party after their narrow election victory in 2016. They widened the gap to the CDU to over 8 percentage points. A central cause of this election victory were Kretschmann’s consistently high levels of competence and sympathy, even during the pandemic. The Green’s success solidifies the political upheaval that has been observed in the south-west for over a decade now. 58 of 70 constituencies went to the Greens in 2021. The party that was once successful only in large cities is now also ahead of the CDU in constituencies with a low population density. The CDU lost above average among the younger generation, the Greens recorded above average profits among people over 60 years. Despite resistance in his own party, Kretschmann once again formed a green-black government. The coalition partners’ goal is to make Baden-Württemberg the number one climate protection state. Greater criticism was sparked by the creation of a new ministry and the appointment of 14 state secretaries. [ZParl, vol. 52 (2021), no. 3, pp. 500 – 519]

Völkl, Kerstin: The state elections in Saxony-Anhalt on June 6, 2021: The center remains strong.
The clear winner of the state election in Saxony-Anhalt on June 6, 2021 was the CDU, which was well ahead of the AfD. The FDP, which managed to re-enter the state parliament, was also among the election winners. The big loser was the Left Party, which achieved the worst result in Saxony-Anhalt’s history. The election’s decisive result factor was the extraordinarily high popularity of Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU), who benefited from his incumbency bonus across party lines. Not only did the citizens hardly know the other leading candidates; moreover the CDU was perceived as having strong problem-solving competence for the dominant issues of Corona and in other relevant policy areas. Likewise, the CDU and Haseloff’s strategy to clearly distinguish themselves from the AfD and the Left was successful. Since Prime Minister Haseloff wanted a stable government for the state, a tripartite alliance was the only option. Due to the conflicts between the CDU and the Greens in the previously ruling so-called Kenya coalition (black, red, green), the CDU chose the FDP as a new coalition partner alongside the SPD, and more than three months after the election a so-called Germany coalition (black, red, yellow) was concluded. [ZParl, vol. 52 (2021), no. 3, pp. 520 – 540]

Reus, Iris, Tim-Benedikt Attow and Nico Fenske: Saxony’s parliament and the digitization of schools from 2017 to 2021: Activities and topics before and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
How did the state parliament of Saxony deal with the topic of digitization at schools and how did the Covid-19 pandemic increase the problem’s immediacy? This question was investigated by means of quantitative and qualitative analyses of parliamentary activities between 2017 and 2021. The empirical evaluation for the period before the pandemic yields only a few activities in the Landtag, with the majority of initiatives coming from a cross-bencher. Thematically, the processes in 2017 and 2018 concentrated on digitization-related measures of the state government in general (or demands in this regard) as well as details of technical implementation. Despite the DigitalPakt going into effect in 2019, a period of inactivity followed for almost two years. Acute pressure to act set in when children had to be taught at home due the Covid 19 pandemic beginning in March 2020. As the media analysis shows, the issue received constant and partly even high attention, with critical reports predominating especially during the period of the second school closure. However, this problem pressure was not clearly reflected in the activities of the state parliament, either in terms of time or content, even though parliamentary interest increased noticeably during the pandemic. Thematically, the parliamentary groups turned their attention to the DigitalPakt and the design of media education concepts. [ZParl, vol. 52 (2021), no. 3, pp. 541 – 561]

Kleih, Björn-Christian: Criticism of the President of Parliament – a baseless taboo?
It is widely assumed that members of parliament are not to criticize how the President of Parliament chairs a plenary session. The Constitutional Court of Baden-Württemberg, however, ruled that such criticism must not be treated as a breach of regulations if presented in an objective manner and to an appropriate extent. The court stated that, insofar, protection of the presidential authority was not an argument to justify the restriction of the right to speak. This article turns against this point of view. Presidential authority requires special protection for several reasons, in particular as it is closely linked to the functioning of Parliament. It must therefore be admissible for Parliament to set up a comprehensive taboo of criticism during its sessions. [ZParl, vol. 52 (2021), no. 3, pp. 562 – 574]

Köker, Philipp and Morten Harmening: And where are the female electors? Deficits in descriptive representation in the election of German Federal Presidents.
Since German reunification, the average proportion of women in the Federal Convention, which elects the Federal President, has been just 32 per cent. To present a nuanced assessment of the lack of gender parity among electors, a new data set is used that includes all members of German Federal Conventions from 1994 to 2017. The low proportion of women can only partly be attributed to the existence and implementation of gender quotas (that are not always binding) within parties. Differences in intra-party pressure and further restrictions in form of ties to external organizations mean that parties do not use the potential to increase the proportion of women by nominating non-parliamentarians for that purpose. Quota regulations aimed at increasing the proportion of women in the Federal Convention quickly come up against practical and constitutional limits, which means that coming closer toward equal representation might begin by first raising public and party-internal awareness of the problem. [ZParl, vol. 52 (2021), no. 3, pp. 575 – 595]

Klein, Markus: Who votes for “Die PARTEI”? An empirical analysis using the example of the 2019 European election.
The party “Die PARTEI” was founded in 2004 by editorial staff of the satirical magazine TITANIC and represents a cross-border satirical project: The PARTEI satirizes and caricatures the existing parties and their personnel, while at the same time participating as a real party in real elections. However, it does not show any serious political aspirations. Based on data from official election statistics and on survey data, this article examines the question of who votes for the PARTEI: It shows that PARTEI voters are primarily young men up to the age of 35, who are often still studying and are somewhat more likely to come from East than West Germany. They are interested in politics, dissatisfied with the current state of German democracy, and politically left-wing. Their voting decision in favour of the PARTEI is primarily a vote of no confidence in the political and economic system of the Federal Republic of Germany. PARTEI voters prefer voting for a satirical party instead of casting an invalid vote. [ZParl, vol. 52 (2021), no. 3, pp. 596 – 617]

Bannert, Michael and Marcus Höreth: Opposition behaviour in plenary debates on the Global Compact for Migration: “New dualism” on trial.
In the 19th election period, the Alternative for Germany entered the German Bundestag for the first time. Being the largest opposition party, it is conspicuous for its aggressive and provocative behaviour. The smaller and established opposition parties FDP, Left Party, and Greens appear occasionally to distance themselves from their opposition colleague by forming an alliance together with the government with the purpose of challenging the far-right populist opposition party. By performing a case study analyzing plenary debates regarding the Global Compact for Migration, utilizing content and frequency analytic methods we study opposition party behaviour with regard to conflict patterns. The findings suggest that the “new dualism” between the governing majority and the opposition is supplemented by the confrontation between established parties and the AfD. [ZParl, vol. 52 (2021), no. 3, pp. 618 – 639]

von Steinsdorff, Silvia, Lennard Gottmann, Malte Hüggelmeyer, Ines-Maria Jeske, Charlotte Onkelbach and Johanna Siebeking: Plenary debates as a mirror for altering discourse coalitions: The positioning of parliamentary groups between ecology and economy since 1977.
Contrary to what is often assumed, members of the German Bundestag do not only use the plenary debates for issuing pre-fabricated statements or advertising party positions to an imaginary public but they also refer to each other and enter into a direct discourse on content. In an innovative long-term study, this article examines all speech shares on ecological topics in the chancellor’s budget debates (EP 04) since the eighth legislative period. By combining quantitative and qualitative content-analytical methods, it shows how discourse coalitions develop and change within and between parliamentary groups. Not only did the ecology issue continuously take up more space in the budget debates but content alliances developed across factional boundaries, with the CDU/CSU and the Greens in particular converging over time and partly taking up each other’s arguments. The second readings on EP 04 provide a very good basis for comparison in this regard as they depict the antagonism between government and opposition annually in a largely unchanged framework, which allows to control possible intervening variables. [ZParl, vol. 52 (2021), no. 3, pp. 640 – 658]

Müller, Leo: Limiting the Bundestag’s size – A glance into the legislative toolbox to reform the German federal electoral law.
In recent years, the Bundestag election system has turned into a permanent construction site. This is owed to the Supreme Constitutional Court (BVerfG) having ruled on the effect of negative voting weight and overhang seats and has led to the Federal Electoral Law (BWG) being changed a few times. When Norbert Lammert was President of the Bundestag he had already encouraged a reform to decrease the size of the Bundestag. Meanwhile the last reform is much more restrained than many political parties had required it to be and it is not clear whether the 20th Bundestag will decrease in size. Based on surveys, the next Bundestag could increase to an even higher number than today’s 709 seats. The Bundestag will probably once again have to take further action to decrease the number of seats. The new proposal presented here prevents another increase of the Bundestag and guarantees at the same time that every region is represented at least by one Member of Parliament. [ZParl, vol. 52 (2021), no. 3, pp. 659 – 668]

Bischof, Wolfgang, Friedrich Pukelsheim and Maria Stelz: The forty-percent-rule for proportional representation systems: An empirical review of a practical hypothesis.
Based on empirical data from German elections after WW II, 765 test instances are constructed to examine the forty-percent-rule. This rule states that all winners of single-seat-constituencies can be integrated into the proportional representation outcome provided the number of constituencies equals forty percent of the nominal size of parliament. While the traditional fifty percent share usually leads to overhang seats, a share of forty percent leads to overhang seats in only twenty-two of the 765 test instances. [ZParl, vol. 52 (2021), no. 3, pp. 669 – 674]

Krause, Johannes: Minimally invasive or effective? A contribution to the debate on the modification of the federal electoral law from October 2020.
Despite the 2020 reform of Germany’s national parliament voting law, the debate about a robust voting system has not ended. Träger and Jacobs have convincingly shown that Naundorf ’s suggestion to introduce a parallel voting system creates more problems than it solves, and thus more far-reaching approaches have to be considered. One way to stop the Bunde- stag from growing is to reject the two vote-system. Comparable to the system of Thuringia’s local elections, with open lists and three votes per voter, both the standard size of the Bun- destag can be safely adhered to and at the same time a personalized proportional represen- tation can be maintained. Among other advantages, the voters would have greater influence on the personalized composition of the Bundestag. In particular, reservations on the part of the political parties could stand in the way of such a sustainable solution to the ongoing problems with the German electoral system. [ZParl, vol. 52 (2021), no. 3, pp. 675 – 684]

Hartmann, Oskar: Assignment of seats in double constituencies: A proposal for a reform with caution.
The author advocates a reform of the election system in favour of multi-nominal constituencies (see ZParl, no. 4-2019, p. 906 ff.). It has to be noticed, however, that the political debate shows strong inertia in the present system, which has prevailed since 1949 and which consists of one-person-constituencies and Land candidate lists. Therefore, a second-best solution seems to be to continue the system as such but to organize the assignment of constituency seats in double constituencies. Each double constituency would assign two seats to the strongest or the two most strongest parties within its area, applying the methods of d’Hondt or Sainte Laguë. Tentatively calculated on the basis of the federal election results of 2017 and 2021, the suggested reform would not produce overhang seats (“Überhangmandate”). If this proposal were combined with a reduced number of constituencies, the probability of overhang seats would drop further. In this proposal single constituencies might not have a direct representative in Parliament. Directly elected MPs of neighbouring single constituencies or elected MPs of the Land candidate lists would become their co-representatives. [ZParl, vol. 52 (2021), no. 3, pp. 685 – 689]

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