Schultze, Rainer-Olaf: The election of the Bavarian state parliament on October 14, 2018: Signals for profound changes also at the federal level?
The outcome of the election marks a deep shift not only in Bavarian politics but also corresponds to Germany’s ongoing restructuring of its electorate and the changing configuration of its party system at large: (1) The two catch-all parties suffered dramatic losses of more than ten percentage points; the conservative CSU lost its parliamentary majority in the state legislature, tallying less than 40 percent, the social-democratic SPD even less than ten percent of the total vote. (2) The voting behaviour is characterised by high volatility and processes of polarisation, caused by growing cleavages between town and country, be- tween the generational as well as religious divides and the ongoing occupational differentiation in the electorate. Ideologically, these divides correlate with liberal and cosmopolitan mind-sets and (post-)modern urban lifestyles, the main electoral base of the Green party, on the one hand versus the more conservative and traditional rural electorates on the other. Their influence on the newly formed coalition between the CSU and the “Free Voters” will be more pronounced, while the populist and in part anti-pluralist electorate rallies behind the right-wing AfD. (3) In Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse, the Green party has now replaced the SPD as the main electoral contender of the Christian-democratic parties; it remains to be seen whether their electoral fortunes can be extended to the northern and eastern parts of the country in the near future. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 2, pp. 223 – 244]
Debus, Marc and Thorsten Faas: The election of the Hesse state parliament on October 28, 2018: Continuation of the black-green coalition with strong Greens and weak Christian Democrats.
Federal politics has often influenced elections to the Hesse state parliament. This was also true for the election 2018, which was not only decisive for the future of the incumbent black-green coalition government led by Prime Minister Volker Bouffier (CDU), but also for the fate of the federal party chairs of CDU and SPD, Angela Merkel and Andrea Nahles, at the federal level. Compared to previous election campaigns in Hesse, the 2018 campaign was less polarized, visible also in the openness of CDU, SPD, Greens and FDP in terms of forming coalition governments. The election result continued the transformation of the German party system into one with six parliamentary parties. After some vote counting problems, the incumbent coalition, which won a small parliamentary majority, was – in line with established theories of government formation – renewed. As a result of their gains in votes, the Greens’ position was stronger than five years ago, which led to more offices and to a stronger bargaining power in the coalition negotiations. [ZParl, vol . 50 (2019), no. 2, pp. 245 – 262]
Reutter, Werner: On the size of state parliaments. Criteria for a factual discussion. Decisions on the size of a parliament are genuinely political. Insofar it seems only logical that the few studies dealing with this topic from a political science perspective fail to provide unequivocal criteria that would allow politicians to pick just the “optimal” size of a parliament. Nevertheless, political science can provide some yardsticks that should enable informed decisions. According to studies on the size of parliaments and some empirical findings, the number of seats of North Rhine-Westphalia’s parliament is not to be reduced as demanded by the right-wing populist AfD. To downsize this state parliament would result in further deficits of democratic representation. In this respect, the AfD’s demand to reduce the size of state parliaments is not just a “standard issue of symbolic politics” (Werner J. Patzelt). Rather, this claim reflects the party’s skeptical, if not even outright negative stance towards basic principles of representative democracy. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 2, pp. 263 – 275]
Leunig, Sven: Procedural rules for expulsion from parliamentary parties in Germany’s federal and state assemblies: An attempt on an inventory.
Expulsions of delegates from parliamentary factions are impactful, albeit rare, events . Following a discussion in the German Association for Parliamentary Affairs in 2004, the procedural rules of more than two-thirds of the parliamentary parties represented in Germany’s federal and state assemblies between February 2017 and February 2019 are examined on how such expulsions are regulated: A vast majority of parliamentary groups have made arrangements for such a case. However, significant differences persist with regard to what preconditions need to be met and what quorum is required for expulsion. From a constitutional point of view, it appears especially problematic that many parliamentary groups al- low expulsions due to a loss of party membership, without mandating a formal expulsion process. Also, parliamentary groups which entered parliament in more recent years tended to have more specified rulebooks than those of more senior parties. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 2, pp. 276 – 298]
Jutzi, Siegfried: Expulsion from a parliamentary group. The Constitutional Court of Rhineland-Palatinate decision on January 29, 2019 – VGH O 18/18.
A member of the Rhineland-Palatine state parliament failed in his appeal to the state Con- stitutional Court against his expulsion from the parliamentary group AfD (Alternative for Germany). His parliamentary group had excluded him due to his contacts to right-wing extremists. Expulsions of this type are subject to a decision by the political group assembly, which must be taken in accordance with a minimum procedure under the rule of law and must be free from arbitrariness. The Constitutional Court regarded these conditions as given and emphasized that the parliamentary group had considerable room for maneuver in this respect which is not subject to constitutional control . This applies both to the investi- gation and to the assessment of the facts underlying the expulsion from the group. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 2, pp . 299 – 305]
Vögele, Catharina and Claudia Thoms: The isolated parliamentary group. Hecklings, other intermediate reactions, and the AfD in the state parliament of Baden-Württemberg.
How do the members of parliament use hecklings and other intermediate reactions in the Baden-Württemberg state parliament? Does the AfD as a new party in parliament differ from the other political groups? An automatic analysis of all interruptive actions recorded in the plenary protocols of the current and the previous legislative period as well as a manual content analysis of the hecklings used in 20 current debates (ten debates per legislative period) shows that the use of hecklings as well as other interruptive actions like applause or laughter mirrors the conflict between government and opposition parties. In the current legislative period, the AfD falls out of the ordinary in that the party is isolated from all other political groups by various means. For example, the other parties avoid applauding for AfD speakers and criticize them sharply through hecklings. The AfD and its members of parliament also distance themselves from the other parties by heckling and laughing maliciously about them. Thus, we can identify a clear polarization between the AfD and the other parties in the federal state parliament in Baden-Württemberg. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 2, pp. 306 – 326]
Tremmel, Jörg: Private pension as an alternative to civil servants-like pension for members of parliament. The results of the commission in the state parliament of Baden-Württemberg.
In 2018 the state parliament of Baden-Württemberg installed a commission of experts to inspect the existing retirement income system of its parliamentarians (Altersversorgung des Abgeordneten). The commission report prompts a comparison between the existing retirement income system in Baden-Württemberg and a reflection on alternatives in other German states. Due to political, legal and economic reasons, one should opt against the system of civil servants-like pension schemes for members of parliament. Of all the alternatives, the system of a private pension contribution is most likely to reconcile the interests of all those involved. In order to do justice to the importance of the office and to secure sufficient retirement benefits, the amount of the contribution should be 2,000 Euro per month in the state parliaments and 2,500 Euro per month in the Bundestag. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no . 2, pp. 327 – 350]
Heynckes, Heinz-Willi: Between tradition and modernity: Establishing German Bun- destag committees in the 19th electoral term.
The first time arrival of the AfD in the Bundestag focused public attention on the distribution of committee chairmanships. The process of determining who chairs which committees is still based on an old German parliamentary custom whereby the committee chairs are allocated in accordance to a calculation method adopted in advance by the House and based on the relative strengths of the parliamentary groups . Following that procedure the AfD group is entitled to chairing three committees. The Reichstag procedures for appoint- ing committee chairpersons were intentionally incorporated into the Rules of Procedure of the Bundestag and specify that committees are to ‘appoint’ their chairs in accordance to the agreements reached by the Council of Elders. An election is not prescribed. This has been standard practice throughout the course of many electoral terms. In the 19th electoral term objections against the candidates nominated by the AfD group were raised and the com- mittees called for a vote to be taken. The AfD group argued that the Bundestag Rules of Procedure make no provisions for a vote on committee chairmanships and that the agreement reached by the parliamentary groups on their distribution was binding for the committees. Quite rightly, votes were ultimately taken because a presumptive binding effect of the parliamentary group decisions is superimposed by the freedom of the MPs in the exercise of their mandate. A Member cannot be compelled to vote for anyone for whom he or she does not wish to vote. Due to the new larger size of the Bundestag, the committees have grown in size. This led to an increase in the restrictions on speaking time. Such curbs are also permissible at the committee stage as long as they do not impair the fairness of parliamentary proceedings. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 2, pp. 351 – 367]
Koß, Michael and Miryam Tan: Do governments influence parliamentary timetables? Agenda control and the allocation of parliamentary time in the British House of Commons and the German Bundestag.
Do governments use their control of the parliamentary agenda to influence the allocation of plenary time and devote relatively less time to important legislation? Using an original dataset comprising all plenary debates during two parliamentary sessions each in the British House of Commons and the German Bundestag in which all (legislative and non-legislative) debates on matters of national importance are identified, one can find no support for this claim. Both in absolute and relative terms, more legislative time is allocated to impor- tant legislation under centralized agenda control in the House of Commons. If one additionally considers non-legislative debates, the relative shares of plenary time devoted to important topics is similar. However, in absolute terms, more than twice as much time is allocated to important topics in the House of Commons than in the Bundestag . [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 2, pp. 368 – 384]
Dörner, Andreas and Ludgera Vogt: Political crisis communication: What roles do politicians play in special TV broadcasts?
One reason why special German broadcast programs like „ARD Brennpunkt“ and „ZDF spezial“ fulfill their function in crisis communication is that politicians appear in them. In the course of an interdisciplinary research project on media disturbances, 164 of such special broadcasts from 2015 and 2016 were analyzed and 40 interviews with participants were conducted, eleven of those with national and local politicians. It is their roles that are elaborated here. Triangulating the conducted interviews on the one hand and textual analyses on the other, a typology of political role figurations can be presented. Political actors assumed the following roles: (1) “representative of the sovereign”, either as a statesperson or as responsive and palpable; (2) “representative of the party”, bringing forth the agenda of their respective party or subverting it as a deviator; (3) “communicator of exclusive knowledge”, underlining researched facts; (4) authorized expert, driving towards sobriety; (5) “evaluator”, emphasizing normative perspectives and (6) “crisis manager”, underlining their problem solving competence or even, within the sub-role of “local caretaker”, their personal engagement. The roles are part of a crisis communication that aims at calming and orientating the public. [ZParl, vol . 50 (2019), no . 2, pp . 411 – 432]