Abstracts 3/2006 englisch

Kintz, Melanie: Data on the occupational composition of the 16th Bundestag.
Following previous research, the occupational profiles of the members of the 16th German Bundestag are analyzed. For this purpose, the categories established by Adalbert Hess are used. Moreover, a comparison of East and West German MPs is taken up again. The data show that only a partial convergence of professional profiles is taking place. It still holds true that less East German members of parliament are civil servants, business owners or self-employed. This difference is also present among younger parliamentarians who started and finished their professional careers in unified Germany. In general, more and more MPs are recruited through parties and parliamentary party groups as employers. The alliance between WASG and PDS led furthermore to a stronger representation of union functionaries in the Left party. This ends the former dominance of the SPD in the representation of unions. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 461 ff.]

Feldkamp, Michael F.: Tailcoat and cutaway in the Bundestag. The introduction of the Bundestag tailcoat 50 years ago.
In January 1955, in its second legislative period, the German Bundestag introduced the tailcoat as standardized uniform for ushers (Saaldiener) in its plenary chamber. The idea goes back to MP Karl Mommer (SPD) and the then Bundestag’s vice-president Carlo Schmid(SPD). They were struggling to find a sign of dignity and an appropriate parliamentary style. At the same time an opening ceremony for plenary debates was found which has been in use ever since. The tailcoat was fashioned after a French model; comparable dress regulations for ushers of 1911 long forgotten. While chairing debate, the acting Bundestag president wore a cutaway with silver grey tie, the director of the Bundestag administration a “Stresemann” (a cutaway of sorts introduced and named after Gustav Stresemann). In the following months after its introduction, the cutaway developed to a popular evening dress in Bonn. This way, the President of the Bundestag was unintentionally a trendsetter for men’s fashion in the then capital. The ushers of the Bundestag to this day wear the tailcoat. It has developed into a trademark and stands as a label for the dignity of the parliament. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 481 ff.]

Pappi, Franz UrbanAlexander Herzog and Ralf Schmitt: Coalition signals and the combination of first and second vote in Bundestag elections 1953 to 2005.
In Germany’s electoral campaigns voters often receive coalition signals of parties which give them information about the coalition preferences of at least a subset of parties. The reaction of the electorate to these signals can be studied by looking at the combination of the first (constituency vote for a candidate) and the second (vote for a closed party list) votes. For all Bundestag elections from 1953 to 2005, representative splitting tables of first and second votes are investigated. In addition, a second data set is used, consisting of a content analysis of articles in mass media and articles in academic publications on the respective federal elections. In order to be labelled as coalition signals, they had to be given by high representatives of the respective parties. They could be either positive or negative. It becomes clear that the coalition signals can predict the type of vote splitting very well between CDU/CSU and FDP and also between SPD and FDP. In contrast, the trend toward splitting between SPD and the Greens is less obvious. The main finding can also be maintained when possible influences of other variables are controlled for in a log linear analysis. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 493 ff.]

Jesse, Eckhard: The election of the Bundestag 2005 seen through the representative electoral statistics.
Official representative electoral statistics have been conducted for Federal elections since 1953 (except in 1994 and in 1998) in Germany. In this world-wide unique statistics, the turnout and the voting behaviour by age and gender are established by counting votes in selected representative polling stations. For 2005 the following results were found: In contrast to earlier times, the turnout of men and women hardly differs any more. In addition, men and women do not differ to a high degree in their voting behaviour – in particular concerning the two big parties. Nonetheless, the SPD continues to be more often elected by women (35.5 percent) than by men (32.8 percent). The difference between the highest share (18 to 24 years: 36.9 percent) and the lowest share (25 to 34 years: 32.7 percent) in respect to age groups is much smaller in the case of the Social Democrats than for the CDU (18 to 24 years: 26.4 percent; from 60 years: 43.3 percent). The latter’s electorate grows significantly with increasing age. The representative electoral statistics is important because of its accuracy (also regarding the splitting of votes). However, age and gender are not factors determining elections. From that point of view, the validity of the statistics results stands in a certain discrepancy to its relevance. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 513 ff.]

Niedermayer, Oskar: The electorate of the Linkspartei.PDS 2005: socio-structural changes while political positioning stays unchanged.
In the federal election of 2005, the Linkspartei.PDS (formerly PDS) in cooperation with the WASG more than doubled its vote. To which extent does the electorate of the Linkspartei.PDS differ from the former PDS electorate with respect to their social structure and their political orientations? Concerning the social structure there is pronounced change. In East Germany, it is no longer the party of former GDR-elites. The changing composition of the electorate in the East and particularly the expansion into new voter groups in West Germany has changed the overall social profile of the party’s electorate in the direction of an overrepresentation of the socially disadvantaged and of modernisation losers. However, this was not accompanied by a change in the political positions of the party voters. As before, the Linkspartei.PDS electorate of 2005 is characterized by a decidedly left-wing ideological self-assessment, a clear welfare state orientation concerning the socio-economic cleavage of the party system and a relative low acceptance of the current political system. To mobilize the traditional as well as the new voters in further elections, the Linkspartei.PDS therefore has no need to balance between different political positions and values. Instead, the party can concentrate on communicating its position as “the only welfare state party”. Therefore, it is likely that the Linkspartei.PDS can hold its ground as a relevant party in the federal party system in the future. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 523 ff.]

Becher, Johannes: State funds for electoral alliances of parties? The unconstitutionality and illegality of Section 52c of the State Electoral Law of Saxony-Anhalt (LWG-ST).
Section 16 (1), first sentence, of Saxony-Anhalt’s Electoral Law (LWG-ST) enables independent parties to form an electoral alliance and to participate in the elections to the State Parliament by nominating joint candidates (both list candidates and direct constituency candidates). According to Section 52c (1) LWG-ST, parties that formed an electoral alliance polling at least one per cent of the valid ‘party votes’ can apply to receive 4 D-Mark (about 2.05 Euros) for each valid party vote obtained by the alliance. If an electoral alliance did not nominate a list of candidates or had not been permitted to do so, it receives the sum for each valid ‘candidate votes’, provided that the direct candidate reached ten per cent of the valid constituency candidate votes (Section 52c (2) LWG-ST). This provision is unconstitutional because amongst others the federal level has exclusive legislative power in this area which was exercised by passing the Law on Political Parties. There are three possible solutions for the section in Saxony-Anhalt: its repeal (without replacement) by the State Parliament or a judicial review of its constitutionality, either with or without reference to a specific case. In addition, there is the question of whether the current Law on Political Parties must be adapted to take account of the electoral success achieved by parties that participate successfully in an electoral alliance. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 538 ff.]

Stüwe, Klaus: Informal governing. The chancellorships of Gerhard Schröder andHelmut Kohl in comparison.
To a large extent, Helmut Kohl’s chancellorship was characterized by informality. The government of Gerhard Schröder, however, which initially had pledged “to avoid the high degree of informal and intransparent political management of the Kohl-era” eventually proved to be no less informal. While the “Kohl-System” focussed on informal coalition management, the “Schröder-System” was marked by the use of informal consultation and consensus commissions adapted to the needs of the media. Both chancellors were confronted with harsh criticism of their informal style.Kohl was mainly criticized for the lack of transparency in the decision-making processes of his government. Schröder was reproached for weakening the parliamentary system and thus, for leading to a non-legitimate shifting of the forming of the political will and of the decision-making processes. This indeed may have problematic consequences, for example if informal commissions generate public pressure through the media on formal institutions like the Bundestag from which the latter cannot withdraw without difficulties. However, informal governing also has some positive aspects. The crucial question is whether informal structures comply with the normative principles of equal participation, legitimacy and democratic control. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 544 ff.]

Siefken, Sven T.: Did expert commissions govern? Taking stock of the red-green federal governments 1998 to 2005.
Many political analysts have stated that the use of federal expert advisory commissions was an element of a “new style of governing” of the red-green coalitions in Germany between 1998 and 2005. Altogether, 25 expert commissions of the federal government can be ascertained for this period: They were instituted after the beginning of the 14th legislative period and they submitted their reports before the end of the 15th. Among them are groups that received much attention, such as theWeizsäcker Commission on the reform of the military, the Süssmuth Commission on immigration reform, the HartzCommission on labour market reform and the RürupCommission on the reform of social security. Groups with little public attention are also included. After investigating 40 detailed variables for each commission, three types can be identified: commissions oriented towards the public, commissions oriented towards bureaucracy and science-oriented commissions. Biographical data of 378 members of 23 commissions show furthermore that the expert commissions should not be understood primarily as an instrument of academic advice. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 559 ff.]

Thaysen, Uwe: Formation of German Government 2005: Merkel, Merkel I, Merkel II?
In any case, the formation of grand coalitions is viewed with scepticism: fears are generated that they may shape un-known profiles of accumulated power. However, when two big “Volksparteien” join to form a new government, German people are at the same time afraid of stalemate. The reality of government formation on Germany’s federal level is documented statistically for the time since 1949, to compare these data with those of the last case, the formation of government of 2005/2006 in an additional essay. Did Angela Merkel have a better start in 2005/2006 than her predecessor Gerhard Schröder in 2002/2003? Will the new government ofMerkel and her so called vice-chancellor Franz Müntefering (SPD) survive politically until the end of the current legislative period in 2009? Will there then be a second term for Mrs. Chancellor Merkel? Which will be the next coalition? [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 582 ff.]

Hildebrand, Klaus: The first grand coalition 1966 to 1969. Parliamentary democracy in Germany endangered or demonstrating its strength?
The grand coalition of 1966 to 1969 was heavily criticised at its start. The economic situation was perceived as dramatic and the big seat majority of the government in the Bundestag was seen as danger for parliamentary democracy. The cabinet united many top-level experts and relied on the good cooperation between the two chairmen of the majority parties in parliament. The coalition proved to be ready and to be able to govern in matters that concerned the daily life of the citizens. It pursued a modern type of socio-policy and led Germany to a consumer society. However, it was not successful in bigger, more fundamental issues, above all in foreign affairs. The coalition was criticised for the weakening of the opposition and for the strengthening of extremisms, and therefore for the weakening of parliamentarism. Both criticisms can be refuted: First, the emergence of extremisms did not stand in a causal connection to the coalition; and second, the parliamentary opposition was not solely pursued by the FDP but also by parts of the majority parties in parliament. The latter did not oppose their government but they resisted certain proposed laws in case of objections or doubts. The grand coalition therefore provided for a strengthening of the positions of the single members of parliament, of their parliamentary party groups and of the whole Bundestag – altogether demonstrating the strength of Germany’s parliamentary democracy. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 611 ff.]

Probst, Lothar: Grand coalitions as rescue scheme? Experiences from Bremen.
For the second time in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany it is governed by a grand coalition, the first one ruling from 1966 to 1969. It seems as if grand coalitions constitute an exception to the rule. At state level, however, there have been grand coalitions more often than is generally assumed. At present, more German states are governed by such coalitions than ever before – including Bremen where the SPD (Social Democratic Party) and the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) have been governing together for the past eleven years. Although conditions at national level differ in many ways from the conditions in Germany’s smallest federal state, some conclusions can be drawn from the so-called Bremen Model with regard to the inner dynamics of such a coalition. Looking at the main stages of the development of the Bremen coalition it becomes clear how relations between the two coalition partners have changed over time. While the cooperative spirit among the main actors of the grand coalition was a major guarantee for success during the first two terms, the coalition is becoming less efficient the longer it governs, deteriorating in its third term to a coalition of crisis. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 665 ff.]

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