Abstracts 3/2005 englisch

Zeh, Wolfgang: The meaning and purpose of parliament today. An introductory essay.
In over 55 years since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, parliamentarism has proven a success in which the Bundestag has played a major role. This success can be substantiated by any legitimate comparison – either to other parliamentary democracies or to examples from Germany’s history. In the same time period, however, academia, the media and the general public have continuously emphasized a decline of the Bundestag’s impact: in its control over the executive branch, in being infiltrated by lobbyism, in no longer exercising creative power in legislation, in losing power to commissions, party circles and mass media and in increasingly lower quality of its personnel and obsolete due to Europeanization and globalisation. Looking at these arguments, it remains puzzling why German parliamentarism has been able to survive and why it has become a role model for many other countries. The assertion that the Bundestag has lost influence is not based on empirical evidence but is rather a result of thought traditions from all periods of German history as well as deficits regarding pragmatism and realism. A detailed look at how the Bundestag functions in a modern, open, and pluralistic society reveals that many of the common patterns of criticism have been left over from past ways of thinking which do not grasp the cultural achievements and the indispensable role of modern parliamentarism. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 473 – 488]

Schuett-Wetschky, Eberhard: Government, Parliament or Parties: Those who decide, decide what is decided.
The media often give the impression that the government is in control when in fact the ruling parties make political decisions. In simpler terms, it is not the executive branch and parliament which make the decisions but rather the political parties. This has always been the case in systems of parliamentary government. However, this practice has been rejected up to the present day. The underlying anti-party attitude can be analyzed within the German context by taking a look at contemporary theorists. With their exclusive fixation on constitutional bodies, it is characteristic of these theorists to overlook empirically-based theorists such as Walter Bagehot,Joseph A. SchumpeterErnst Fraenkel, and Dolf Sternberger. By insisting on state bodies as the centres of public decision-making, these theorists help to enhance citizens’ alienation with their political system – even if there is no convincing legal or empirical argument to sustain their case. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 489 – 507]

Oberreuter, Heinrich: Parliamentarism in talk show society: Acting important and taking important actions.
The core function of modern parliaments is legitimization through communication. However, parliaments have lost their central position in political communication because they are subject to much competition, in particular with the media. In this competition, parliamentary decision-making processes do not attract enough publicity. An additional dilemma lies in the dependency of parliaments on mass media and their news value factors, since parliaments are not able to completely adapt their procedures to media logic. Reforms seem possible but power interests, lethargy, and indifference must be overcome in order for change to occur. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 508 – 516]

Patzelt, Werner J.: Why do Germans despise their parliament but love their constitutional court? Results of a comparative public opinion study.
Parliaments in Germany are comparatively not well trusted by the public and their performance has received rather poor evaluations. Comparisons of parliaments with consistently trusted or highly rated political institutions should reveal the reasons for this. Based on a representative survey from the fall of 2004, a comparison of the Bundestag and the Federal Constitutional Court demonstrates the following main causes of lesser trust in the Bundestag and its negative evaluation: comparatively poor ‘institutional character’ (defined as orientation toward the common good, impartiality, objectivity, and time and money efficiency); less satisfying institutional performance as well as parliamentary responsiveness; more negative media coverage and poorer evaluation. In addition, the assessment of both institutions depends on the general evaluation of Germany’s political system. In this respect, the Constitutional Court benefits from satisfaction with the system’s normative principles, whereas the Bundestag is badly affected by wide-spread dissatisfaction with Germany’s economic situation and the responsible political personnel. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 517 – 538]

Schüttemeyer Suzanne S. and Roland Sturm: The candidate – the (almost) unknown creature: Findings and considerations on the nomination of candidates fort he German Bundestag.
The candidate selection process for the members of the Bundestag is of crucial importance for the quality of deputies. In sharp contrast to this truism stands the fact that this process is painfully underresearched. The authors’ study of candidate nominations for the 2002 election and impressionistic evidence for the 2005 election show that compared to the 1960s, for which we have the last reliable data, the share of party members who participated in the candidate selection process has increased to seven to eight per cent on average for all parties. Candidates prefer the selection procedures they know. The local and regional party organisations mostly control the candidacies in the constituencies, the mid-level party activists (including the sitting MPs) are more influential when it comes to party lists. To be or have been a constituency candidate is an important precondition for entering a party list. Incumbents are fairly safe. What we still do not know is, why is that so? What are the motives of the party delegates when they select candidates? And what motivates citizens today to enter into the race for a candidacy, even if they most likely fail?Uwe Thaysen’s respect for Parliament as an institution would certainly be a good answer. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 539 – 553]

Kühne, Jörg-Detlef: Hatschek
’s partially published Parliamentary Law: the abandonment and reconstruction of his legendary overall scheme.

In early 1915, the first volume of the famous work “Das Parlamentsrecht des Deutschen Reiches” (Parliamentary Law of the German Reich) by Julius Hatschek was published. Unfortunately, this important European work remained a framework for unknown reasons until now. Thanks to a clue found in the publisher’s archives, the fate of the additional sections has now been resolved. It became clear that Hatschekmust still have worked intensely on the next volume in 1915 and 1916. Therefore it was necessary to locate the manuscript. The results of the search make clear that many of Hatschek’s most relevant remarks became part of his two-volume compendium “Deutsches und Preußisches Staatsrecht” (German and Prussian Constitutional Law) published in 1922/23, making possible an approximate reconstruction of the missing volume from Parlamentsrecht. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 554 – 572]

Schreiner, Hermann J.: The Berlin hour – functionality and experiences. Speech regulations in the German Bundestag.
The allocation of time for speeches is one of the essential issues in parliamentary speech regulations. Since the beginning of the 10th electoral term (1983), the Bundestag has allocated speech time to the parliamentary factions (or groups) using a system which has since proven its worth and is applied in most debates: the “Bonn hour” which became later the “Berlin hour”. In this system, the total length of a debate is first determined based on a calculation unit agreed by the parliamentary groups at the beginning of each electoral term. This unit, known as an “hour”, is generally somewhat longer than 60 minutes, currently 62. The total speaking time, e.g. two “Berlin hours”, is then divided up amongst the parliamentary groups using a formula which is also agreed upon at the beginning of each electoral term. MPs who are not affiliated with a parliamentary group are allocated separate times. The formula is based on the relative strengths of the parliamentary groups. However, it also takes other factors into consideration, for example a bonus for smaller parliamentary groups, extra time for the opposition and also for the parliamentary groups supporting the government, since speeches made by the government in the debate count towards their speaking time. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 573 – 588]

Schöning, Jürgen:
The parliamentary dimension of the Baltic Sea cooperation: The contribution of the north German State Parliaments.
Following a Finnish initiative, the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC) was founded in 1991, in which all national and regional parliaments of the Baltic Sea region work together on an equal basis. This kind of cooperation is unique and should be preserved. The North German State Parliaments have many possibilities for supporting an effective bottom up approach. However, the BSPC will not develop into a Baltic Sea parliament nor should it have the ambition to do so. Neither the elected parliaments which exist in the Baltic Sea region nor the governments need another layer of additional democratic legitimacy. Instead, parliaments should aim at initiating specific activities and helping governments implement them by using their internationally agreed parliamentary consensus reached in the BSPC. Therefore, parliaments of the Baltic Sea region should focus on their core functions, including the informing, the teaching and the linking function. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 589 – 599]

Jesse, Eckhard:
After the failed vote of confidence: The state of parties and the party system in Germany.
After the failure of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s vote of confidence on July 1, 2005 and the early election of the Bundestag in September, the German party system is expected to alter. Two questions are essential: Will there be a change of government? Will the number of parties in the Bundestag be different? Looking at the results of the state regional elections between 2002 and 2005, a change of government seems likely. It can also be expected that the number of parties in the German parliament will increase. However, what will be advantageous in the short run for the Left Party, a new party combining the PDS and the so-called Election Alternative Social Justice (WASG), might not be advantageous in the long run. For example, a swing to the left by the SPD could create difficulties for the Left Party. In comparison with the 2002 election, CDU and FDP are more united this time, whereas the unity of SPD and Greens appears to be crumbling. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 600 – 615]

Holtmann, Everhard: Can they really do that even though they’re Danes? Dealing with power and minorities in Germany.
For a short moment, the result of the state parliament election in Schleswig-Holstein on February 22, 2005, made the creation of a red-green minority state government tolerated by the SSW (South Schleswig Voters Association), the party of the Danish minority in Schleswig-Holstein, seem possible. For several weeks this development was then extensively discussed by a rather excited public, who for two reasons generally questioned the SSW’s potential role as a key parliamentary supporter of a minority red-green government. First, it was argued that since the party is granted special electoral rights the SSW should not be warranted an active part in government building. Second, it was said that a party focused on representing minority interests in parliament can not claim full mandate rights. Both arguments are tested empirically and discussed as a matter of constitutional law. And: They, the Danes, can really do that. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 616 – 629]

Saretzki, Thomas: Policy advice by citizen expertise? Concept and practice of “cooperative discourse”.
After 1989 the „Round table“ developed a high symbolic attractiveness as a model for coping with processes of transformation, not only in Central and Eastern Europe but also in the search for new forms and institutions dealing with complex problems in Western industrial societies. Against this background, various concepts for new participatory and discursive forms of political mediation have been designed and tested experimentally. One of these concepts, the “cooperative discourse” of Ortwin Rennand Thomas Webler, is analyzed in its rationale and the way this three-step model has been implemented in participatory projects on biotechnology and genetic engineering organized by the Academy of Technology Assessment in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Some fundamental problems of sequential models of participation become apparent. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 630 – 648]

Hartmann, Jürgen:
“Efficient parts of the constitution” and “the normative power of the factual”: BagehotJellinek and the European Union.
The structure of governments can be revealed by looking behind the facade of official institutions. Both Walter Bagehot and Georg Jellinekemphasized the importance of practice against formal rules in their analyses of government. Applying their ideas of dignified and efficient parts of the constitution and of the normative power of the factual to European government, an absent European public stands out as the central flaw of legitimacy in the political process of the European Union. In contrast, the habit of observing the law is the backbone of the efficiency of European law. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 649 – 665]

Müller-Rommel, Ferdinand: Inter-party competition in Central Eastern European democracies: On the connection between structures of government formation and stability of party systems.
Stability and change of Central Eastern European party systems has received only limited scholarly attention in contemporary political science literature. Based on a research design recently proposed by Peter Mair, openness and closeness of ten Central Eastern European party systems are examined. The analysis provides empirical evidence that today stable structures of competition exist in five states, whereas in another two states there have only been signs of stabilization in the past few years. All in all it can be said that the stability of Central Eastern European party systems has significantly increased over the last ten years. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 666 – 679]

Horst, Patrick: The New Republican US Congress: Polarized, centralized and accommodating to the President.
20 years ago, at the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, Uwe Thaysen ascertained a significant increase in Congressional power opposite the presidency based on his assessment of three determining factors: policies, personalities, and parties. His prediction of a long-enduring Congressional self-assertion vis-à-vis the presidency proved well-founded concerning the presidencies of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Yet the “Republican Revolution” in 1995, the ascension of George W. Bush to the presidency, and the terror attacks of 9/11 changed the combination of the three factors and brought about a new balance of power: The New Republican Congress is the result of electoral change that led to a nationalization of the American party system and to the “Southernization” of the Republican Party. With the parties increasingly homogenous, partisan polarization in Congress reached new heights. Republicans further increased the centralization in Congress with their organizational reforms in the 104th Congress (1995-97), but at the same time weakened it as an institution. Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Congress equipped President Bushwith far-reaching emergency powers. Altogether, policies, personalities, and parties have led to a weakening of Congress vis-à-vis the presidency in the past decade. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 680 – 699]

Livingston, Robert Gerald: Legislatures and Intelligence Services: A Dark Spot in Executive Oversight?

In the United States unprecedented attention has been given to American intelligence services and their failures since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Congress has held many hearings and has published a series of probing reports. Congressional oversight is especially difficult to assert, however, when the White House is conducting a “war” against terrorism and strengthening the executive branch’s powers for that war. Congress has been particularly careful in examining American intelligence’s relationships with foreign partners. To carry out more effective oversight, it will have to develop new instruments, perhaps, as is the case in the German Bundestag, the establishment of a small group of legislators whom the executive branch is willing to make privy to a broad range of intelligence operational problems. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 700 – 704]

Kloth, Hans Michael: UN Reform in the 109th US Congress. Or: When foreign policy becomes the plaything of domestic politics.
Criticism of the United Nation’s inefficiency and lack of its capacity to act is a recurring theme of US foreign policy. The failure of the international community in Yugoslavia, Ruanda or Darfur, the Security Council’s No to the Iraq war, and a string of scandals have further de-legitimized the UN in the eyes of the United States in recent years and increasingly prompted calls for far-reaching reforms of the world body. Stronghold of this view is the US Congress, which has repeatedly attempted to force UN reform by using the “power of the purse” to withhold US dues. The latest and drastic example of this is the “Henry J. Hyde United Nations Reform Act”, passed by the House of Representatives in June 2005, which requires the automatic withholding of 50 percent of US assessed contributions if the UN does not institute several dozen reform benchmarks within two years. [ZParl, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 705 – 722]

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