Englischsprachige Abstracts der aktuellen Ausgabe der ZParl

Englische Abstracts, Heft 1/2024

Walter-Rogg, Melanie: The election of the Bavarian state parliament on October 8, 2023: Vote of continuity for the black-orange coalition.

The Bavarian election on October 8, 2023, has led to a shift to the right. The Free Voters and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) are the election winners and are once again making significant gains compared to 2018. The parties of the Berlin coalition are the election losers. The Greens, in particular, received fewer votes than five years earlier, but together with the Free Voters and the AfD, they remain relatively equal behind the still dominant Christian Social Union (CSU). The CSU remains on its lowest result since 1950 and the SPD achieved its worst result in a German western state. The Liberals are punished the hardest, failing to reach the 5%-threshold for the seventh time in ten parliamentary terms. Massive problems such as rising inflation and energy prices, as well as increasingly serious challenges posed by climate change, migration and increasing right-wing populism, are also putting the wealthy state of Bavaria to the test and allowing state-specific issues to take a back seat in the election. The decisive factors for the election result were the general satisfaction with the work of the Prime Minister, the desire for stability and continuity in difficult times, but also a growing concern that the CSU can no longer cope with the growing problems on its own. That is why the citizens voted for the continuation of the black-orange coalition, which was formed only 19 days after the election. [ZParl, vol. 55 (2024), no. 1, pp. 3 – 24]


Debus, Marc and Thorsten Faas: The election of the Hesse state parliament on October 8, 2023: The electoral weakness of the traffic-light coalition parties and the surprising end of the black-green coalition.

The Hesse state election on October 8, 2023, took place in a polarized political context that was characterized by a decreasing support for the parties of the federal government and the several implications of Russia’s attack on Ukraine for German and European politics. At the same time, the state government consisting of the CDU and Alliance 90/The Greens worked relatively conflict-free and remained stable even after the change in the office of Prime Minister from Volker Bouffier to Boris Rhein. The Social Democrats, as the largest opposition party, nominated the Federal Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser, as their top candidate and thus a politician well-known in Hessian state politics and nationwide. The election results reflected the weak support of the parties forming the federal government (SPD, Alliance 90/The Greens and FDP) in the electorate. The CDU benefited from the high level of dissatisfaction with the federal government and from the Prime Minister’s incumbency advantage. The CDU vote share was almost twice as high as the vote share of the AfD, which became the second strongest party in Hesse with 18.2 percent of the vote and achieved its best result to date in a West German state election. The Left failed to win parliamentary representation. The CDU was able to choose its coalition partner between Alliance 90/The Greens and the SPD. The Christian Democrats selected – because of a smaller programmatic distance, as the analysis of the parties’ election manifestos indicates – the Social Democrats as their new junior partner. The analysis of the office and policy payoffs for CDU and SPD shows that the Christian Democrats were better able to enforce their office and policy preferences than the SPD. [ZParl, vol. 55 (2024), no. 1, pp. 25 – 42]


Carstensen, Franziska: Reformed question rights in Berlin’s state parliament: really a strengthening of parliament?

Berlin’s state parliament approved of a comprehensive reform of its question rights at the start of 2014: So-called big questions were abolished, and the oral questions were reduced to a spontaneous form. Since then, there have been only simple oral and written questions in the Berlin parliament which can be used by single parliamentarians and not by parliamentary party groups. Accompanying this reform, Members of Parliament got more financial means to hire personal staff for their work. After the reform, oral questions were asked less often while there was a massive surge in the use of written questions. Moreover, Members of Parliament supporting the government asked more questions than before, and a focus on statistical and cost questions has become visible. All in all, there has been a trend towards frequent questioning and fast answering, at the expense of bigger question projects that serve developing concepts (in particular on the side of the opposition). Whether or not the reform has led to a strengthening of parliament – which the reform proponents had advocated for – is open for discussion based on the findings presented here. [ZParl, vol. 55 (2024), no. 1, pp. 43 – 62]


Grabmeier, Johannes: Basic mandate, assessment of the principle of equality, distortion – pitfalls when setting up committees of inquiry in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

The 8th state parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has 79 members in six parliamentary party groups, which are represented with the following numbers of seats: SPD 34, AfD 14, CDU 12, Left Party 9, Greens and FDP with 5 each. A dispute arose over the appointment of two committees of inquiry. A majority of the state parliament approved two committees with nine members – four SPD MPs and one from each of the five other parliamentary party groups – at the suggestion of the governing coalition of the SPD and the Left Party. The proposal of the CDU, Greens and FDP to set up the committees with 13 members and a 6:2:2:1:1:1 distribution of seats was rejected. The disputes brought before the State Constitutional Court by the CDU as the applicant (LVerfG 3/22 and 4/22), were unsuccessful in the ruling of February 23, 2023. The problem areas that arose can be outlined as follows: basic mandate, assessment of the principle of equality, and distortion. This is shown in the article in the form of comments on the ruling of the State Constitutional Court. At the same time, solutions for avoiding such disputes and also for their adequate assessment are presented. First and foremost, there is a quality measure for the fulfillment of the mirror image principle, which provides a quality number for every conceivable distribution of seats, regardless of the chosen allocation procedure. This allows both the fulfillment of the principle of equality to be assessed and questions of distortion of a distribution to be quantified and thus objectively considered. [ZParl, vol. 55 (2024), no. 1, pp. 63 – 75]


Anger, Tim-Niklas and Martin Klausch: Simulation games offered by the state parliaments. An inventory.

The majority of German state parliaments offer simulation games for adolescents. These events are designed to teach young people about the processes of intra-parliamentary will formation and decision-making. This article presents a survey of the simulation games currently offered by state parliaments. The analysis is structured by content and organizational criteria. All simulation games focus on the legislative function of parliament. Other parliamentary functions are only addressed on the side or not at all. Furthermore, two thirds of the simulation games are designed for school classes. They usually last a maximum of one day and are offered several times a year up to several times a week. In contrast, four parliaments offer simulation games for individuals, which take several days and are carried out much less frequently than the programs for school classes. In addition to the general overview, detailed insights are provided into the event “Youth in Parliament”, which is organized by the parliament of the Hamburg city-state. [ZParl, vol. 55 (2024), no. 1, pp. 76 – 92]


Sonnicksen, Jared: Contrary or constructive? On the productive contradictions between federalism and parliamentary democracy.

The relationship between federalism and parliamentary democracy was long considered to be susceptible to functional problems, and thus in parts incompatible. Accordingly, cross-level political coordination, which is necessary for federalism in practice, stands at odds with the dynamics of partisan competition typical of parliamentary systems of government. The interactions between both processes were considered as either susceptible to deadlocks in intergovernmental coordination or as a cause of de-parliamentarization of politics. In light of the diversity of federal systems in practice, however, this viewpoint appears as overly narrow. While democracy and federalism are surely not inherent counterparts, the conjunction of these two different regime dimensions in one political system is by no means inevitably contradictory. Instead, the search to reconcile and balance different, and in-parts countervailing demands and functional logics, pose an ongoing task for any federal democracy. Depending on patterns of coping with the tensions between them, indeed the interconnections and interaction between federalism and parliamentary democracy can prove to be productive and to facilitate modes of democratic governance. [ZParl, vol. 55 (2024), no. 1, pp. 93 – 108]


Klein, Markus, Christoph Kühling and Frederik Springer: The election of the mayor of the city of Kassel on March 12 and 26, 2023: The battle between two Social Democrats and a run-off election against themselves.

The election of the mayor of the city of Kassel in March 2023 was special in two respects: firstly, in the first round of voting, a candidate from the SPD ran against the incumbent mayor, who was also a member of the SPD but was running as an independent candidate. Secondly, the incumbent withdrew his candidacy after the first round, in which he had received the most votes. As a result, only the second-placed candidate from the first round was left in the run-off. On the basis of a survey of the population of Kassel and the official election statistics, it can be shown that the mayor was able to benefit from a strong incumbency bonus in the first round. The fact that the SPD withdrew its support did him little harm. The second ballot changed its character due to the incumbent not standing. Failure to secure a majority of votes for the remaining candidate would have meant new elections. For many voters, this raised the question of the desirability of new elections. In the run-off election, a majority in favor of the remaining Green candidate was ultimately only achieved because some voters wanted to avoid new elections. [ZParl, vol. 55 (2024), no. 1, pp. 109 – 127]


Risse, Horst: Berlin election 2021 – 3rd and 4th Act.

On the 19th December 2023, the verdict of the BVerfG on the Berlin Chaos election of 26th September 2021 was issued. The verdict only refers to the Bundestag election, which took place on that day together with the elections to the Berlin House of Representatives. As often reported, there was an unusually large number of irregularities, which is why the Berlin VerfGH declared the Berlin-related elections invalid as a whole and ordered a complete repeat election. Since the Bundestag election and the Berlin elections were connected, the question arises whether the BVerfG, on the one hand, and the Berlin VerfGH, on the other hand, applied the same criteria for determining electoral failures and dealing with them. Because, unlike the VerfGH, the BVerfG ordered a repeat election to the Bundestag for only about a fifth of the voters. A more detailed analysis of the two judgments shows that, in particular, the consequences of election failures were assessed differently by the two courts. While the BVerfG gave a very high priority to the continuation of the once-elected parliament and thus came to a repeat election as limited as possible, the VerfGH drew the opposite conclusion from the mass of failures. In the interest of an understanding of the relevant legal terms as uniform as possible, it would have been appropriate that the VerfGH had submitted its intended decision to the BVerfG in advance. [ZParl, vol. 55 (2024), no. 1, pp. 128 – 141]


Rütters, Peter: The AfD in the 20th Bundestag: still only partially fit for parliament.

The right-wing party AfD was successful in being re-elected to the German Bundestag in the year 2021, even though – compared with the previous parliamentary elections (2017) – with a smaller vote share (10.3 percent instead of 12.6 percent) and a loss of seats (83 instead of 94). The AfD parliamentary party in the 19th Bundestag (2017-2021) was surprisingly stable in spite of the fundamental changes of the political positions of the AfD. At the end of the election period, only 10 MPs had left the parliamentary party, were excluded or had died. And nearly most of the remaining representatives – more than the 58 re-elected MPs (nearly 70 percent of AfD-MPs in the 20th Bundestag) – were interested in renewing their mandates. That is remarkable, because nearly 85 percent of the 2017 elected MPs became a party member in the founding years (2013/2014) of the AfD. The – here analysed – (political) social profile of AfD-MPs changed from the 19th Bundestag to the 20th because of the 36 MPs leaving the parliament at the end of the election period and the 25 newly elected ones. In particular, the AfD parliamentary party lost some politically and parliamentary experienced MPs who previously had been members of democratic parties and were elected into councils of local self-government before joining the AfD. To compensate it, the 2021 newly elected representatives did not gain enough political experience before joining the AfD. Very few had been members of an established party and even fewer held a mandate in a municipal council. The AfD parliamentary party is characterised by the internal process of self-recruitment and political professionalization of the AfD. Nearly 50 percent of the newly elected parliamentarians had been AfD-MPs in state parliaments or had been in the staff of the party, the parliamentary party or a single MP. But nevertheless, the lack of political and parliamentary experience before becoming AfD member reduces and concentrates political experience and activities on the AfD (as arena of political experience) and encourages a “movement” orientation of parliamentary activities. Therefore, a constructive cooperation in the Bundestag by the parliamentary party and most MPs of the AfD could not be expected. [ZParl, vol. 55 (2024), no. 1, pp. 142 – 170]


Gabriel, Oscar W.: Responsiveness in polarized pluralism – Part 2: The role of the parties.

In empirical research on political representation, the congruence between the attitudes of voters and those elected is considered a good measure of political responsiveness. Using the example of four selected political orientations, this article examines the congruence between the preferences of the candidates nominated by the six parties represented in the Bundestag and the population for the election years 2009 to 2021. Different findings emerge for the four attitudes. Across all parties, there are large similarities between the political preferences of voters and politicians. The positions of voters and politicians on the left-right scale and their attitudes towards climate protection are rather similar, while a more marked difference characterizes the attitudes towards controlling migration. The preference for higher social spending or tax cuts lies somewhere in between. The differences between the political convictions of SPD and Linke voters and politicians are more pronounced than those of the other parties. In addition to party preference, the level of education has the strongest influence on the distance between voters and politicians. [ZParl, vol. 55 (2024), no. 1, pp. 171 – 204]

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