Abstracts 4/2018 english


Loewenberg, Gerhard: The Bundestag in the 21st century: German parliamentarism on a new path.
In the face of its historic, tragic discontinuity, the revival of German parliamentarism in the mid-20th century shows that institutional development is not necessarily path-dependent. Contingent factors shaped the revival. One contributing factor were the Military Governors’ policies in Western Germany, who encouraged the reestablishment of Germany’s self-government, licensed four political parties and promulgated a Basic Law significantly different from the Weimar Constitution. Another factor was that the new parliament comprised only three effective parliamentary groups, which developed practices that were shaped by a professionalized party leadership. When new parties entered the Bun- destag early in the 1980s, it was to their advantage to accept these practices. At the beginning of 21st century practices in the Bundestag are considerably different from those before 1933. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 713 – 718]

Buchstein, Hubertus: Preconditions for parliamentarism to be effective. Otto Kirchheimer’s thoughts on parliamentarism during his years of exile in Paris and New York (1933–1945).
To this day, the young Otto Kirchheimer is regarded as a strong critical voice of the Weimar Republic’s parliamentary system. The article discusses Kirchheimer’s less known writings on parliamentarism during his years of exile in Paris and New York between 1933 and 1945. Kirchheimer on the one hand avows himself as an ardent supporter of modern parliamentarism. He sees it as a means of political integration in the same way his former Berlin mentor Rudolf Smend did. On the other hand, he em- phasises the role precarious social, institutional and cultural preconditions have on parliamentary re- gimes’ effectiveness. Kirchheimer opted for strengthening the role of the public sphere, especially when considering that the importance of the executive branches in modern democracies is continuously growing. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 718 – 729]

Schultze, Rainer-Olaf: Realignment or the end of normal politics? Elections and a changing his- torical-political context.
Using the analytical tools of V.O. Key’s “theory of critical elections” and Peter Hall’s concept of paradigmatic “third order change”, the article places democratic electoral processes in changing socio-historical contextual environments, discusses in a systematic as well as a diachronic perspective the parameters of both change processes in their dialectic relationship. It goes on to identify the various contextual variables that either determine long-term stability in the electorate and party system or that cause upheaval and deeply rooted structural changes in participation forms and in voting behaviour. Empirically, the analysis focusses on the case of the German electoral history, with special emphasis on the critical elections and paradigmatic policy changes in the recent electoral history. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 729 – 743]

Zeh, Wolfgang: The size of parliaments – too large, too small, or just the right size?
After the 2017 Bundestag election, the Bundestag consists of 709 members. In the public’s opinion this number has been criticized for being too high. The article sets out to determine the criteria for a “correct” number of members of parliaments in a given political system. In order to do so, the sizes of parlia- ments in German history are compared as are the sizes of other parliaments. Next, the terms of reference for parliaments in a pluralistic society are dealt with and, finally, the relative expenses for a parliament in the national budget are described. The results do not yield any rational criteria by which a specific size of parliaments could be accepted as the right size. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 744 – 756]

Sturm, Roland: How institutional reforms fail – the resilience of second chambers.
This is a paradox. Political science literature has often rung the death bell for Second Chambers. They have been declared as no longer being of importance, or even lacking legitimacy. In Ireland, Italy, Canada and the UK the political parties had decided to reform the national Second Chambers, or to even dissolve them. The referenda in Ireland and Italy saved the Second Chambers from extinction, in Canada the Supreme Court blocked a substantial reform and in Britain party political conflict only allowed incremental changes. This shows that political science research has so far underestimated the resilience of Second Chambers. Even if Second Chambers are marginalized they can find a comfortable place in politics. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 756 – 766]

Schindler, Danny: Parliamentary leaders as seen by German MPs: the ascriptive power of party group chairpersons.
Despite the pivotal position chairpersons of the parliamentary party groups (PPG) in the German Bundestag hold, they are substantively understudied. In particular, there is no scholarly work on the chairpersons’ power to steer PPGs. This study investigates the power relations within the Bundestag by drawing on MPs’ own assessments of chairpersons’ strength. Capturing the MPs’ views is extremely valuable since they should be able to provide better insights than outside observers. The influence socially ascribed to chairpersons can also be regarded as a source of power sui generis if the reputation of power leads to anticipatory adaptations. Almost all parliamentarians, irrespective of criteria like seniority or leadership affiliation, attribute considerable power to the chairpersons’ role. Moreover, this per- ception corresponds with the chairpersons’ self-perception. Given their importance for the function- ing of parliamentary democracy, there is much need for more detailed investigations on their steering capacities and leadership behaviour. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 767 – 777]

Siefken, Sven T.: Plenary in miniature or the place for negotiating? Towards understanding com- mittees in the German Bundestag.
The committees of the Bundestag are often understood as the place where the real work of parliament takes place. Surprisingly, they have not been studied very thoroughly in empirical political science. This is, in part, due to their work not being public. Here the relevance of committees along the policy cycle are discussed and numerous approaches for deeper investigation are introduced. Better data access and new analysis methods will facilitate this. The committees have a great relevance throughout the policy process, but they are neither mere actors nor arenas. Instead they are institutions that struc- ture the separation of labour in policy making. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 777 – 792]

Schmidt-Jortzig, Edzard H.: Parliamentarism in the age of new media – or: digital parliamentarism.
The comprehensive digitization of communication does not exclude parliamentarism. It encroaches on its working methods as well as on its operation mode. Authenticity, directness and originality of par- liamentarian debates are declining. Integrity and self-confidence of the representatives is suffering. Even the democratic parliamentary process is damaged as the informing function of parliament becomes vulnerable, the manner of discourse may vulgarize and parliamentarian problem-solving is subjected to simplification. Taken together all these factors will lead to changes of the playing field, the framework and sounding board of parliamentarism. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 793 – 798]

Krause, Joachim: Everyone talks about it but nobody knows what it is? Perspectives for analysing and designing parliamentary control.
It is a widely held belief that the parliament’s ability to control the cabinet is a critical element for the functioning of a democracy. This article questions this hypothesis. The study of core theses of realistic democracy theory led to the conclusion that in notion of control where parliament as a hole stands op- posite of the government is incongruous with the system of parliamentary government. Established control concepts reflect the rules of the game of political competition between parties, but are – in a narrow sense – no control. Based on these findings it is inevitable that a new understanding of the role of parliamentary control must be developed. In doing so it must be taken into consideration how the state apparatus can be controlled, how individual and political freedom can be protected and how parliamentary control over political debates can be reassumed. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 799 – 814]

Lhotta, Roland: Parliamentary sovereignty and constitutional change in the United Kingdom. On zombies, judges and constitutional lead concepts.
Britain’s constitution has radically changed. Long standing and firmly established principles of the former “political constitution“ – like parliamentary sovereignty – are being questioned and go so far for them being labelled as “zombies“. The article traces some of the main developments up to the Brexit decision of the UK Supreme Court and shows that the shift towards a “legal constitution” has significantly re-arranged the separation of powers under the British constitution. The legal regimes of European integration and European Human Rights as well as a series of rather incoherent constitutional reforms have produced a constitutional dystopia where the British (senior) judiciary steps in by invoking new constitutional principles or by re-inventing them through a judicially designed “Common Law Constitutionalism”. By asserting its new role in the separation-of-powers-game the judiciary is becoming a more and more powerful actor under Britain’s constitution in flux. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 814 – 826]

Kolkmann, Michael: Checks and balances under pressure? A first evaluation of the Trump administration.
Since Donald Trump was elected president, the U. S. political system of “checks and balances“ has been facing previously unknown challenges. With no prior political experience, Trump over the last two years has tried to roll back the legislative successes of his predecessor Barack Obama and to implement his own political agenda. This essay focuses on the abilities and restrictions of the office of the U.S. president. During his first two years in office Trump could rely on a “unified government“, i.e. on Republi- can majorities, in the next two years he faces a “divided government“, since the Republicans kept control of the U.S. Senate, while loosing their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Additionally, U.S. politics are being dominated by an unprecedented political polarization. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 827 – 837]

Kühne, Jörg-Detlef: Foreign policy as a field in which parliament has less influence – exemplified by chancellor Adenauer’s wait-and-see attitude towards “Ostpolitik” in the 1950s.
Imparity of parliamentary influence, common to both the acceptance of the Versailles Treaty by the Weimar National Assembly and the current struggle in the British House of Commons over the Brex- it deal, was also a grave problem for the German Bundestag addressing the government’s Ostpolitik in the 1950’s. The problem revolved around keeping at least some parts of the territory east of the Oder and Neiße that indisputably belonged to the German Reich up until 1945, and thus made up a core element of the state as such. The secret German-Polish negotiations show that in this case the German parliament was by far not as well informed as the government. This was at least one of the reasons why the Bundestag did not and perhaps could not realize how detrimental to German interests this wait- and-see attitude was, especially since seen through international eyes the German position was continually being eroded. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 838 – 854]

Oberreuter, Heinrich: German emergency laws of 1968: parliament’s competence and the embarrassment of its opponents.
The 1968 legislation succeeded in transforming the state of emergency in Germany: it no longer en- tails the executive’s overwhelming prerogative. Hence, Parliament’s rights and structures as well as the constitutional state and its functioning will not be curtailed in a state of emergency. In defending these principles, the Bundestag invoked and used legislative competencies and its autonomy vis-à-vis the government, while at the same time trying to engage public opinion to a hitherto unprecedented de- gree. Those opposing the project proved to be scarcely or badly informed regarding the parliamentary debate, on the one hand, while on the other hand, radical protagonists manipulatively formed an al- ternative public sphere. These latter actors intended to overcome the given political system. Passing the law did, contrary to all predictions, not result in democracy’s demise, but rather led to an end of the challenges posed by its opponents. This specific legislative process pertaining to the regulation of the state of emergency in Germany allows insight into the parliamentary forming of political consensus and the way this is intricately linked to public opinion. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 855 – 870]

Dobner, Petra and Torben Fischer: Failure, fiasco, catastrophe! Steps towards a research concept on political mistakes.
Although the term “mistake” is used regularly when political actions are judged, so far (German) po- litical science has not developed a substantial concept of policy mistakes. Nevertheless, a holistic and policy-oriented concept of state error can be reconstructed and related to the current research state through a multi-level inventory. Our results show that hitherto an analytical term for political mis- takes has, at best, been developed rudimentarily. The main reasons for these shortcomings are the dif- ficulties to demarcate mistakes from “political criticism” and to systematically define criteria that iden- tify political mistakes. Despite the epistemological and conceptual challenges, the added value of de-dramatizing and sharpening the political analysis of mistakes in political processes and decisions makes this a worthwhile endeavour. Reflections on the difficulties and the benefits of an analytical concept of policy mistakes are followed by the development of an agenda for further research con- nected to four research topics. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 870 – 884]

Patzelt, Werner J.: Lack of responsiveness or malfunctioning communication? The “gap of representation” and the AfD in Germany.
Based on survey data from April 2018, this article demonstrates that the “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD) has emerged from a “gap of representation” as perceived by a relevant percentage of German voters. In addition, the dimensions are shown in which the communication between Ger- man citizens and their representatives continue to be deeply disturbed. Based on those observations, conclusions are drawn on how to counter the further rise of political populism. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 885 – 895]

Niedermayer, Oskar: The AfD in German state parliaments, the Bundestag and the European Parliament. Ideological bipolarity and different strategic orientations.
The “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD) is now represented in all 16 German state parliaments, the Bundestag and the European Parliament. In the European Parliament, the ideological and personal conflicts of the federal AfD have led to the split-off of the biggest part of the AfD-group and eventu- ally to the total marginalization of the party’s influence. In many of the state parliaments conflicts be- tween representatives of the national-conservative and the folkish-nationalistic wing exist, which lead to withdrawals, exclusions, changeovers or the break-up of the parliamentary party. The ideological bipolarity has also led to different strategic orientations and is either parliamentary-oriented or move- ment-oriented. This complicates the reactions of the other parliamentary parties, which include igno- rance, exclusion, political contention and even temporal cooperation. These developments can also be found in the federal parliament and there are first indications that the two different strategic orienta- tions and the other parliamentary parties are beginning to change their reactions from initial exclusion strategies and moral indignation to political contention. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 896 – 908]

Gabriel, Oscar W.: Does criticising politicians undermine confidence in democratic institutions?                                                                                                  A healthy balance between trust and criticism is seen as an ingredient of democratic government. Starting from this normative assumption, the article analyses whether and to what extent the public’s enduring negative view on politicians might weaken trust in political institutions. In examining this relationship, a distinction is made between spill overs on trust in institutions induced by the attitudes towards the politicians as a group on the one hand and two specific German political leaders, Angela Merkel and Sigmar Gabriel, on the other. As the data show, attributing trustworthiness to politicians as a group of leaders and to chancellor Merkel turn out to be the prime antecedents of peoples’ trust in parliament and government. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 909 – 918]

Höhne, Benjamin: Sometimes participation prevents disenchantment with politics and some- times it does not: active party members’ trust in democracy and parliamentary satisfaction.
In attitude and participation research it is argued that political participation can counteract political disaffection. However, the relationships between action and attitude level are complicated, in particular due to inconsistent causal relationships and how they work as well as their multiple interactions. Based on a survey of active members of all seven Bundestag parties in the run-up to the 2017 federal election, the interrelations of political participation on the one hand and political support on the attitude dimen- sion on the other hand are multivariatly analysed here. One result is that conventional participation on the left and right of the political spectrum is accompanied by system-critical attitudes, which thus find a system-appropriate, outlet for their articulation [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 4, pp. 919 – 932]


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