Abstracts 2/2020 english


Probst, Lothar: The state election in Bremen on May 26, 2019: a christian-democratic win, but a red-green-red government.
The state election in Bremen in 2019 was marked by a head-to-head race between SPD and CDU and ended up with a considerably increased turnout and a historical result. The Christian Democrats managed to beat the Social Democrats for the first time in Bremen’s postwar history. The Greens achieved their second-best outcome in a Bremen state election and had the choice between a so-called Jamaica coalition or a left coalition. Whereas the pragmatic oriented Left Party succeeded to accomplish a two-digit result of 11.3 percent, the Liberals and the Alternative of Germany underperformed with an outcome of about six percent of the votes. After a round of exploratory negotiations between Christian Democrats, Greens, and Liberals on the one hand and between Social Democrats, Greens, and The Left on the other hand, the rank and file of the Green Party decided to hold coalition talks with Social Democrats and the Left Party. Once the red-green-red coalition was built, the Senate’s president and SPD front-runner, Carsten Sieling, resigned. Instead, Andreas Bovenschulte became the Senate’s new president. Bovenschulte is a former chairman of Bremen’s Social Democrats and had already been elected to lead the SPD parliamentary party. [ZParl, vol. 51 (2020), no. 2, pp. 263 – 284]

Niedermayer, Oskar: The election of the Brandenburg state parliament on September 1, 2019: At the last moment, the SPD defeats the AfD.
After a slow beginning, Brandenburg’s election campaign became dominated by the SPD’s and AfD’s struggle to come in first. This contributed considerably to an increase in turnout to 61.3 percent. Although the SPD won the election with 26.2 percent, it sustained substantial losses because its front runner Dietmar Woidke was less popular than in 2014, and the voters attributed less competences to the party in all relevant policy areas. The CDU could not benefit from this weakness, lost considerably and dropped back to the third place with 15.6 percent. The AfD, which attracted ideologically convicted voters as well as economically, culturally, or socio-politically deprived protest-voters, moved forward to the second place with 23 .5 percent. The Greens won 10.8 percent, the Left Party 10.7 percent. The BVB/Freie Wähler remained at exactly 5.0 percent, whereas the FDP failed to overcome the five percent threshold. The exploratory talks to form a new three-party coalition at first were overshadowed by an internal rebellion in the CDU but ended with a coalition of SPD, CDU, and the Greens. [ZParl, vol. 51 (2020), no. 2, pp. 285 – 303]

Jesse, Eckhard: The election of the Saxonian state parliament on September 1, 2019: Parliament leans to the right, the government leans to the left.
The peaceful revolution of 1989 began in Saxony. 30 years later, the public eagerly awaited the results of Saxony’s seventh state elections. The AfD was expected to gain a high share of votes after the party there had already been the strongest political force in the federal elections in 2017 and the European elections in 2019. Although the CDU lost votes it still came out the strongest party – mainly because of Michael Kretschmer’s excellent reputation as state premier. The election was marked by superlatives: The Social Democrats faced their worst result nationwide after World War II. The Greens had never gained more votes in the state. Almost the opposite holds true for The Left. The AfD had nowhere else in Germany received a higher share of the vote nor a higher percentual increase. The governing coalition does not mirror the election results: The left parties were weakened in parliament but strengthened in government. The CDU refrained from forming a minority government, which was deemed too risky. [ZParl, vol. 51 (2020), no. 2, pp. 304 – 325]

Oppelland, Torsten: The election of the Thuringian state parliament on October 27, 2019: The next experiment – a red-red-green minority government with an expiration date.
After a campaign, which was both polarized and poor in content, the state election failed to produce a clear majority in the Landtag. The winners of the election were The Left and the AfD, while the parties of the right and left center suffered losses; only the FDP gained a little and managed to pass the five percent threshold. The election outcome deemed it unlikely that a government could be formed since neither the previous red-red-green coalition nor a CDU-FDP coalition had a majority. As coalitions transcending the traditional coalition blocks or any agreements for the toleration of a minority government could not be reached either, the consequence was that in February 2020, the Thuringian FDP leader Thomas Kemmerich was elected state premier in the third ballot with votes from the FDP, CDU, and AfD. Of the latter party not a single member voted for their own candidate. The outrage in the general public led to FDP’s federal party leader Christian Lindner to force Kemmerich to resign on the day after his election. Only then, during the „interregnum“ that followed, were CDU and the former coalition parties The Left, SPD, and Greens able to agree on a „stability mechanism“ which allowed Bodo Ramelow to be reelected as a state premier of a minority government, which is meant to stay in office for only a little more than one year. [ZParl, vol. 51 (2020), no. 2, pp. 325 – 348]

Träger, Hendrik, Jan Pollex and Marc S. Jacob: Incumbency effects in “contested” constituencies – an analysis of the state elections in Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia (1990 to 2019).
The elections in three East German Länder in 2019 did not only result in significant changes in the proportional vote share but also in severe shifts in constituency results between directly elected deputies. Against this backdrop this article analyses the election results in Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia since 1990. It shows that most of the constituencies have become contested. Hence, concepts dealing with “safe” constituencies for one party can, particularly in an increasingly fragmented party system, no longer explain election outcomes. Instead, the relevance of candidates for their respective electoral performances is taken into account. Overall, our results clearly suggest an incumbency factor. [ZParl, vol. 51 (2020), no. 2, pp. 349 – 366]

Klausch, Martin: The legislative process for the county-level territorial restructuring in Brandenburg. Responsiveness in details – differences in fundamental issues.
The article provides detailed insights into the pre-parliamentary stage of the legislative process for the county-level territorial restructuring in Brandenburg. In the further development of specific aspects of the draft bill, the state government incorporated many of the demands of the county level representatives and local government umbrella organizations. The aggregated information supply as well as the citizen support of those arguing for similar modifications prove to be important factors for successful influence on policy formulation. On more fundamental issues, however, the state government expressed different positions from those of the county level representatives and local government umbrella organizations. For instance, the objection that territorial reform could only be justified on the basis of a comprehensive transfer of tasks remained a main point of criticism on the part of the municipal level. As a result, the government was unable to forge an alliance for reform, despite a high level of responsiveness to detailed demands. In the end, the county- level territorial reform failed due to the joint resistance of the fundamental opposition groups and potential allies who fundamentally recognized the need for reform but did not agree with the draft bill as such. [ZParl, vol. 51 (2020), no. 2, pp. 367 – 384]

Pautsch, Arne and Daniel Zimmermann: “Participatory legislation” – chances and limits of strengthening legitimacy through public participation.
Several German “Länder” are currently testing participatory methods to obtain opinions and ideas of citizens on legal proposals. They aim at achieving outputs that are widely accepted by the public, and thus considered to be better. These methods, known as participatory legislation, raise high expectations in relation to possible vitalizing effects on parlia- mentary democracy. However, the term is misleading due to the fact that such consultation processes can neither replace nor complement representative democracy, which is based on the German constitution. At the most, its benefits can be found in strengthening legitimacy. But even political scientists assume limits concerning the input-, throughput-, and output-legitimacy of “participatory legislation”. Legitimacy can only be strengthened if transparent rules for its use and its binding effects are clearly stated and if they include control rights of parliament. Otherwise, there could be a risk of a shift in power from the legislative to the executive power. [ZParl, vol. 51 (2020), no. 2, pp. 385 – 407]

Schmidt, Christopher: Municipal assemblies in Germany: revival or an obsolete model?                                                                                                     The article briefly presents the history of the municipal assemblies in Germany and, among other things, deals with the change in the Lower Saxony municipal code 1962/63. At present, there are still municipal assemblies in Schleswig-Holstein. To assess their practice a survey of the mayors of 44 small municipalities with up to 100 inhabitants was conducted. In 27 of these municipalities there was a municipal assembly; in 17 a municipal council was elected. The questions asked included the preferences of the mayors (municipal assembly or representation), the participation of the citizens and the municipal finances. A clear majority of the mayors were satisfied with the existing organizational form. The participation in the municipal assembly was on average 47 percent of those entitled to vote, the proportion of women among the participants was 41 percent. Of the 27 municipalities with a municipal assembly, 24 were debt-free. Finally, the question is raised as to whether forms of assembly democracy can be introduced in view of the increased demand for participation in the localities. [ZParl, vol. 51 (2020), no. 2, pp. 408 – 418]

Kuhn, David: The effectiveness of parliamentary opposition. Considerations de lege lata et ferenda with particular regard to the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court of May 3, 2016.
Although the right to form and exercise parliamentary opposition has always been recognized as an essential part of the free democratic basic order, there is widespread disagreement within jurisprudence about the specific status of oppositional actors in the German Bundestag. The ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court of May 3, 2016 has provided little clarity in this respect. While the court rightly recognizes the principle of effective opposition, many issues remain unclear, particularly with regard to the constitutional derivation on the one hand and the practical consequences of the principle on the other. This contribution attempts to answer these questions and finally pleads for an opposition-sensitive design of the instruments of parliamentary committees of inquiry and abstract norm control in order to ensure the effectiveness of parliamentary opposition also by formal law. [ZParl, vol. 51 (2020), no. 2, pp. 449 – 468]

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