Biermann, Rafael: The German Bundestag and the Deployment of Military Forces Abroad. The Delicate Balance between Executive Prerogative and Legislative Participation.
The bill stipulating the modalities of parliamentary involvement in deploying German military forces abroad for crisis management („Parlamentsbeteiligungsgesetz“ or „Entsendegesetz“) will most probably be passed soon by the Bundestag. German political science has left this issue largely to specialists of constitutional and military law despite its fundamental repercussions on the relationship between parliament and government in foreign policy decision-making. Starting from the assumption of a “de-parliamentarization” of German foreign policy, two questions arise: (1) To what extent has the path breaking ruling of the federal constitutional court in 1994 abetted a shift toward returning competences back to parliament; and (2) how efficient, reliable and promising is the current decision-making process. Taking into account the complex interdependence of international and national levels as well as the informal processes of coordination which have been established so far, the conclusion is: Altogether the decision-making process between legislature and executive worked well. However, it is necessary to think about instruments and procedures which would increase efficiency especially in cases of urgency and secrecy. [ZParl, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 607 – 626]
Resignation and Exclusion from the Parliamentary Party: The Rights of the Independent Member of Parliament. A Discussion Organized by the Deutsche Vereinigung für Parlamentsfragen.
Speech I by Hans Hugo Klein.
Parliamentary party groups must be capable of both political decision and action. This demands and justifies a certain degree of party discipline which has, however, its limits in the so called free mandate to which every Member of the German Bundestag (MdB) is entitled. The exclusion from a parliamentary party group affects the MdB’s free mandate since his influence on the decision-making process is thereby actually diminished and his or her legal status impaired. Therefore, the exclusion of MdBs is not always permitted. It is only justified if, leaving him in the parliamentary party, would seriously and continuously damage its capacity to decide and act politically. [ZParl, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 627 – 632]
Speech II by Martin Morlok.
MdBs who are not organized in a parliamentary party group have fewer rights regarding the legislative procedure than those who are. Therefore, members of parliament must be protected against unjustified exclusion from the group. Parliamentary parties are communities voluntarily founded by MdBs, their legal status being based on the German Member of Parliament’s Act (Abgeordnetengesetz). There is no personal right to be a member of a parliamentary party – at best one could see that those who are members may have a right to keep that status. In assessing a parliamentary party the interests of other members must be kept in mind. It is particularly here that the functions of parliamentary parties with respect to work, ideology and also competition are affected. It is extremely important to have a strong formalized process for the exclusion. However, this formalization is not a sufficient precondition for excluding deputies from their parliamentary party as it would prevent courts from controlling the material contents of the case. That is why substantial requirements in form of a blanket clause (e.g. an “important cause” is necessary to exclude somebody) should be incorporated into the statutes of the parliamentary parties. [ZParl, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 633 – 645]
Trampusch, Christine: From Associations and Interest Groups to Parties. Elite Change in the Making of Social Policy.
In German social policy, the interdependencies between Members of the German Bundestag (and other professional politicians working in that field) and interest organizations were traditionally quite strong. Between 1972 and 2002, however, the ties between members of the Bundestag’s Standing Committee for Labour and Social Affairs and social policy organizations such as trade unions, church based social policy organizations, independent charity organizations, works councils, and social insurance institutions became weaker. The development of parliamentary careers indicates a trend towards functional differentiation which has led to a divide between Members of the Bundestag and social policy organizations. Since the 1990s social politicians in the Bundestag have become more focused on political careers in their respective parties and in parliament than on social policy. The new social politicians in parliament are, one can conclude, party politicians who have distanced themselves from the interest groups. [ZParl, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 646 – 666]
Pilz, Volker: Modern Serfdom? Job Outline and Social Security of the Personal Assistants of Members of the German Bundestag.
The 598 Members of the German Bundestag (MdB) employ approximately 4,000 personal assistants under private law. They support the MdBs in all organisational and policy aspects of the parliamentary work. Today, the assistants contribute essentially to the efficiency of the whole parliament. Analyzing the profile and the contents of their job as well as their social security status and their working conditions reveals several shortcomings that are rooted in the current organisation of this specific employer-employee relationship. Being a personal assistant of an MdB is these days one of the most unsafe and socially unsecured jobs in the political environment of Berlin. Therefore, a suggestion for new job provisions for these assistants is presented here. [ZParl, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 667 – 681]
Biehl, Heiko: A New Type of Party Member? Changing Social Profiles and Motivations.
Current research agrees that a new type of member is on the rise in political parties for whom personal ambition is more important than any normative or affective ties. According to this view, political parties are increasingly dominated by individuals provided with strong means, particularly through holding higher education degrees. If this postulated “new party member” is subjected to theoretical and methodological criticism, and then tested empirically against results gathered from parallel surveys of party members and the general public, it can be shown that the more resourceful citizens – especially academics – have indeed become dominant in all parties. However, the data does not indicate any shift from affective to instrumental factors. In terms of democratic theory, the overrepresentation of academics is not without problems as parties themselves have changed over time: What had been political instruments of underprivileged classes have come to serve the interests of those who are already socially and economically privileged. This leaves the lower social classes without an adequate avenue for engaging in politics. [ZParl, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 681 – 699]
Demuth, Christian: New Recruitment and Professionalization Strategies of Parties: Advanced Education of Their Members.
In the future, German parties will have to manage new tasks with fewer members. They react by developing advanced education programs which are aimed at supporting them in fulfilling their functions more professionally, recruiting new members and activating passive ones. Advanced education is not new but the efforts of parties have taken on new dimensions and directions. However, the new recruitment and professionalization strategies are confronted with many structural and cultural difficulties. Many politicians, for instance, dislike advanced education programs. Moreover, the reality of the parties’ organization forms an obstacle to the hopes of party modernizers. [ZParl, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 700 – 716]
Strohmeier, Gerd: The Bundesrat: Representation of the Länder or Party Instrument?
For a long time the German Bundesrat has been criticized for being dominated by party interests rather than by interests of the Länder (as was originally intended). A quantitative comparison of key legislative instruments in periods of identical party majorities in the Bundesrat and the Bundestag and in periods of divided government shows that decisions made by the Bundesrat are indeed influenced significantly by party politics. Since it is not possible to rid the Bundesrat from party interests, the current efforts to reform German federalism should also be directed at transferring certain lawmaking powers from the federal to the state level where, after all, the state legislatures are better suited to fulfill these specific competences effectively. [ZParl, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 717 – 731]
Wagschal, Uwe and Maximilian Grasl: The Modified Senate Solution: How to Reduce Reform Blockades in German Federalism.
One reason for the much criticized political deadlock in Germany can be ascribed to divided government in Bundestag and Bundesrat. Currently, numerous proposals for the reform of the Bundesrat are being discussed. To assess the validity of proposals which concern the selection process and the decision rule in the Bundesrat an international comparison of divided government is helpful to establish best practice; moreover, the different compositions of the Bundesrat which would result from the various reform plans can be simulated. In Germany the extent of divided government is quite large compared to other countries: Between September 1949 and March 2004 it occurred in 65 per cent of the time. It also becomes clear that some of the proposals – holding all parameters constant – will not reduce divided government. However, a modified senate solution offers a passable alternative and would lead to a considerable reduction of the share of divided government. In light of a rise of electoral volatility and more frequent losses of governing parties in national and second order elections reverse majorities can be expected more frequently. [ZParl, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 732 – 752]
Batt, Helge: The Federal Constitutional Court and Reform of Federalism: Strengthening the Länder in Their Legislative Competences. The Court’s Ruling of July 27, 2004 – 2 BvF 2/02.
The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany decided that a major amendment to the federal Law on Higher Education is incompatible with the Basic Law and therefore invalid. It exceeds the federal competence for framework legislation. As a result, the introduction of the so called junior professorship as the only binding way to a full professorship was stopped. At the same time this decision is significant for the future relationship between the Federal Government and the Länder as the court specifies the requirement clause in article 72 of the Basic Law in a way which will considerably restrict the federal lawmaker in concurrent and framework legislation. In line with an earlier decision on the law on geriatric care in 2002 the court again strengthens the rights of the Länder and draws the logical conclusions from the constitutional changes dating from 1994. [ZParl, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 753 – 760]
Winter, Thomas von: From Corporatism to Lobbyism. A Change of Paradigm in the Theory and Analysis of Advocacy.
Lobbyism is a concept recently rediscovered and now frequently used by social scientists and journalists. This reflects a fundamental change in the relationship between interest groups and the state. Structural reforms in the context of globalization, the pluralization of the interest group landscape, and the development of new types of interest groups are factors contributing to an informalization of the policy process. Advocacy in an institutionalized manner as was typical for the German political system is increasingly replaced by selective lobbying. Research on interest groups and public policy in Germany has shed much light on the input side of interest intermediation. This may form a starting point for a paradigm change from corporatism to “lobbyism”. In order to answer the question what kind of lobbyists are influential under which conditions, one must apply a more complex research design, as is provided by the well established US-American literature on lobbying. Additionally, a theoretical concept is needed that conceives lobbying as an exchange process taking place on the basis of interdependence between interest groups and the state. [ZParl, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 761 – 776]
Lahusen, Christian: Institutionalization and Professionalization of European Lobbyism.
The European integration process has always been accompanied by the establishing of European interest groups. From the perspective of European institutions, these actors fulfill important tasks: They provide information, secure compliance and support further steps of integration in terms of the European Union’s new mandates and member states. The gradual institutionalization and professionalization of European interest representation, its conditions, development paths and structural features show that, in spite of unmistakable Anglo-Saxon influence, European lobbyism is following its own patterns. The typical relationships between European institutions and societal interests display an astonishing continuity. As before, informal and dialogical consultations as well as cosy relationships are a particular trait of the European scene. Moreover, the weak regulation of lobbyism in Europe clearly demonstrates that European institutions would like to maintain this practice since it is seen as functional – including all the problems involved. [ZParl, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 777 – 794]