Pukelsheim, Friedrich: Bundestag of a thousand – Calculations for reform proposals for the Federal Election Law.
Due to the 2013 amendment of the Federal Election Law, the 19th German Bundestag 2017 grew to a record size of 709 Members of Parliament. In order to reduce future Parliaments to the target size of 598 seats as stipulated by the Law, the President of the Bundestag convened a working group with the remit to draft a reform option. The paper reports on reform proposal calculations that the author carried out on behalf of the working group and that he presented in a November 2018 meeting . In April 2019, the working group suspended activities without any result. The paper is supplemented with a brief overview of further reform models on which the author was not consulted but which are discussed in the literature to be viable alternatives. [ZParl, vol . 50 (2019), no. 3, pp. 469 – 477]
Jacob, Marc S.: From squaring the circle to electoral reform? Negotiations on the electoral law in the 19th German Bundestag.
Since the 2017 German Federal Election, the electoral system has once more been criticized because it allows to significantly exceed the minimum number of mandates. In order to open avenues for electoral reform, the President of the Bundestag initiated an informal working group comprising members from all parliamentary groups. As we know little about how electoral reforms are negotiated within parliament, this article examines how negotiations between parliamentary groups take place and which interests are pursued. Based on the approach that explains electoral reforms by actors’ self‐ interest and values, the study builds on interviews with four MPs who served as working group members. Since all members are aware of parliamentary groups’ and MPs’ self‐interest when it comes to electoral law issues, they chose to involve the Federal Election Official in the negotiations. While self‐interest explains the parliamentary groups’ general electoral system preference, values impact the preferred nuanced design. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 3, pp. 478 – 493]
Fürnberg, Ossip: Split-ticket voting as an expressive statement? Motives and effects from the electoral system’s perspective.
From the second federal election in 1953 until today, voters have two votes in federal elections in Germany and hence the possibility to cast a so‐called straight or a split‐ ticket. Reasons for split‐ticket voting have been discussed over nearly sixty years in Germany without clear results. In democracies people use their votes to influence the political and personal composition of parliaments. Under this perspective several motives why voters may split their tickets in Germany are discussed. An essential part of the motives discussed in the literature does not include any intended effects on the composition of parliament in the sense of the electoral system. A first empirical insight into the motives of split‐ticket voters shows that behind a split vote there is almost always an expressive statement or strategic considerations based on incomplete or false knowledge of the electoral system. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 3, pp. 494 – 510]
Troitzsch, Klaus G.: Party sympathy and voter decision – Results from the GLES-Panel and Politbarometer surveys up to the 2017 federal election.
For decades, voters’ sympathies for parties and politicians have been examined with the help of scalometer questions. This contribution shows that data like these as well as answers to questions about expected or past voting behavior and factor as well as discriminance analysis allow to find out how and to which degree supporters of different parties can be distinguished from each other and whether they have become more similar over time. Indeed, the differences between partisanships have decreased since the 1980s. A comparison between the results of telephone, face‐to‐face surveys and online surveys reveal that the latter show a far greater polarization between partisanships than traditional surveys. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 3, pp. 511 – 522]
Jäckle, Sebastian and Thomas Metz: “Beauty is a welcome guest everywhere“ – Analyzing the influence of the physical appearance of direct candidates on their electoral returns at the Bundestag elections 2017.
Via an online‐survey more than 5,400 participants compared the winner and the runner‐up for all 299 districts in Bundestag elections with respect to their attractiveness, perceived competence and likability. Relative appearance ratings for each of them were calculated and then used as predictors in a regression explaining differences between the candidates’ election results. Direct candidates who are rated as being more attractive than their competitors win by a larger lead. This correlation also holds if a broad array of alternative explanations for the candidates’ vote is controlled for. Candidates who look more competent possess a similar advantage, although the level of significance is lower for this effect, whereas likability plays no role at all. In comparison to the 2013 election, the positive effect of attractiveness has slightly increased whereas perceived competence has lost influence. Interaction analyses furthermore show that looking competent primarily helps incumbents and that there seems to be a tendency that the appearance effects are more pronounced in constituencies in which a woman is running for office, and that the attractiveness effect increases for older candidates. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 3, pp . 523 – 544]
Berz, Jan: 14 years chancellor Angela Merkel: Support through approximation.
In March 2018, Angela Merkel was elected for her fourth term as chancellor of the German Federal Republic. How did the German population perceive the chancellor over the past fourteen years? A detailed analysis shows that she was more popular than ever at the time of the survey. In the recent federal election even voters who identified with the SPD, the Greens or Die Linke evaluated her favorably. To explain why Merkel became so popular among the electorate survey data from 2005 to 2018 are analyzed. Voters’ increasing satisfaction with the government’s performance and the decreasing ideological gap between the chancellor and the voters explain the rising support for her. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 3, pp. 545 – 556]
Chmelar, Kristina: Yes, is everything going to be better? The Czech parliamentary elections on October 20 and 21, 2017.
After the Czech parliamentary elections of October 2017, even some of the most cautious analysts were tempted into drawing exaggerated conclusions: While some postulated the end of Czech party politics as we know it, others diagnosed the country’s relocation to the European periphery. Indeed, the vote brought important changes to the party system. Hardly anyone predicted that three new parties would enter parliament: the liberal Pirates, the radical right Freedom and Democracy as well as the moderate Mayors and Independents. Neither the landslide victory of ANO nor the strong defeat of social democrats and communists was expected. In order to understand the results, the article does not only look at the election in the narrower sense but highlights the importance of the country’s political culture and discusses the influence of the so‐called refugee crisis. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 3, pp. 557 – 578]
Formánková, Hana and Astrid Lorenz: Change as a constant. The development of the Czech party system since 1989 and its structural causes.
For a long time, Czechia was the poster child in East Central Europe. However, in the past years the success story of rapid party system consolidation changed to a crisis narrative. The apparent temporary crisis is in fact a mixture of enduring and recurring phenomena. Despite successful institutional democratization, the party system has not stabilized during the thirty years after the end of socialism and its central features are inconsistent with expectations based on party studies and democratic consolidation research; the Czech development cannot be captured by the standard indicators. Therefore, the explanatory power of contextual factors, such as state building, general economic conditions, societal and political factors has to be assessed. These structural factors have shaped the development of political parties and their long‐term structure and should be generally included in analyses of party systems’ change. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 3, pp. 579 – 597]
Van Kessel, Alexander and Carla van Baalen: How the King disappeared in the process of cabinet formation in the Netherlands (1815 to 2017).
In 2012, the steering role in coalition building in the Netherlands was transferred from the King to the House of Representatives. Since then, this directly elected part of the States General (parliament) has the authority to appoint the “informateurs” and “formateurs” who supervise the process of cabinet formation. Up to this point it had been the prerogative of the King, who constitutionally appoints and dismisses the ministers. The change of procedure in 2012 was only the most recent step in a development since 1848 that progressively diminished the role of the King in the coalition building process. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 3, pp . 598 – 612]
Strebel, Michael: Should parliament be able to vote for the dismissal of executive members? A highly politicized topic within the Swiss political system.
The executives in Switzerland are elected for a fixed term of office, and dismissal during a parliamentary term is not provided for. This powerful position becomes even more an issue when an executive member is charged with moral or criminal offences. A few cantons have regulated the impeachment of executives in their cantonal constitution (Bern, Uri, Solothurn, Schaffhausen, Thurgau, Ticino). Other cantons (Neuchâtel, Grisons, Nidwalden) as well as the national parliament has chosen legislation. The latter variant is a finely balanced due process of law on how to proceed in the event of impeachment. These provisions as well as the motives behind the introduction of the regulations show that a political dismissal is neither desirable nor intended. There were parliaments that deliberately renounced a regulation because no need for action was recognized or other mechanisms such as political pressure are effective. The analysis of current cases shows how problematic this can be if there are no regulations for dismissal. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 3, pp. 613 – 629]
Behnke, Joachim: Simple, fair, intelligible and efficient – A personalized proportional electoral system with one vote, without district seats and with a Bundestag of regular size.
After the Bundestag election in 2017, the German parliament comprised 709 seats. This is the largest Bundestag ever and is owed to the number of additional mandates compensating for surplus seats. The creation of surplus seats could be prevented by reducing the number of districts to 200 or by creating two‐member‐districts. Other measures could be implemented immediately. However, the admission of uncompensated surplus mandates or offsetting the surplus seats against list seats are both inacceptable for normative reasons. But the cancellation of excessive direct mandates would be efficient and could be justified. It would be even more successful to completely abolish direct mandates and to realize the principle of a personal vote by rewarding those candidates in the districts with a mandate who are most successful statewide, but only to the amount which corresponds to the proportional share of votes. Combining this system with two‐member‐districts could moreover be used to raise the share of women in parliament. [ZParl, vol. 50 (2019), no. 3, pp. 630 – 654]