Hohendorf, Lukas and Ulrich Sieberer: Party competition in the German Bundestag after the AfD entered the German parliament and during the Covid-19 crisis. An analysis of roll call votes.
While party competition is generally dominated by the conflict between government and opposition parties, the analysis finds interesting variations between opposition parties. Over the last few electoral periods, a clear convergence in the voting behavior of the Greens and the Left Party can be observed, not between the Greens and the liberal FDP. There is a dis- tinct separation between the extreme-right populist AfD and all other parties during the most recent electoral period, as all AfD motions were unanimously rejected by all other parties. Second, the request of roll call votes mirrors the respective parties’ topical agenda. In particular, the AfD requested roll calls on their core issues (especially migration) and on topics that ranked high in popular salience (especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic). Moreover, the data indicate that a cross-party consensus on policy reaction to Covid-19 during the initial phase of the pandemic quickly gave way to typical patterns of government-opposition conflict while also indicating some intra-party conflicts, especially within the Christian Democrats. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 2, pp. 261 – 286]
Demler, Katja: Overshadowed by Covid-19: thematic strategies of political parties during the 2021 German federal election.
The Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences had a significant impact on the social, political, ecological, and economic life over the past nearly two years. How the political parties’ handled the Covid-19 crisis was therefore also said to have significantly influenced the 2021 federal elections in Germany-not least because of the strong focus on the pandemic during the election campaign. Based on fundamental assumptions of saliency theory, issue ownership theory, and issue framing, the issue competition strategies of political parties represented in the German Bundestag during the 19th electoral period regarding the Covid-19 pandemic are examined. For this purpose, it is analyzed how important it was pro- grammatically for the Bundestag elections in 2021 by means of content- and frequency- analytical methods, focusing in particular on party-specific differences and commonalities with regard to thematization strategies. The results show that in the 2021 federal election programs, the Covid-19 pandemic was an important valence-issue and that the established parties prioritized Covid-19 issues in areas of their own issue ownership. The Covid-19 crisis is apparently not only to be understood as a valence issue but also as a positional issue – an aspect that future work could take up and examine in more detail. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 2, pp. 287 – 303]
Träger, Hendrik: Are there still “two German electorates”? Regional differences and similarities in voting behavior in the 2021 German federal election.
Following five hypotheses derived from the research literature, the results of the 2021 Ger- man federal election are analyzed on several dimensions: The voting behavior of East and West Germans differs in particular with regard to CDU/CSU and the Green Party, both with electoral strongholds in the West, and the AfD (right-wing populist party) as well as Die Linke (socialist party), both with above-average shares of vote in the East . In this respect, “two German electorates” (Dalton / Bürklin) still exist more than three decades after German reunification. Within those regions, however, clear geographic patterns on a larger scale (e. g., between the north and the south) are not discernible. The situation chang- es at the city and district levels where considerable differences, especially for the Green Party and the AfD, can be found. These can be interpreted as an indication of conflict between urban areas and rural regions. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 2, pp. 304 – 327]
Pyschny, Anastasia and Melanie Kintz: The occupational structure of the 20th German Bundestag.
After the 2021 Bundestag election, the composition of parliament changed considerably. With 736 mandate holders, the Bundestag has more members than ever before, and more than 38 percent of them are newcomers. The article uses Adalbert Hess’ categorization scheme to examine how the personnel changes affect German MPs’ occupational structure. Compared to the previous electoral term, it is noticeable that, significantly more MPs are from occupational areas close to politics, especially staff members of parliamentary groups and parties. MPs who previously worked in those jobs are often younger and their share is higher among East German MPs. Although convergence tendencies between East and West German MPs are still rare, they do exist: While East German MPs are still less likely to be freelancers and more likely to be self-employed than their West German colleagues, the differences between the groups have narrowed noticeably compared to the previous electoral term. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 2, pp. 328 – 343]
Grotz, Florian and Wolfgang Schroeder: Recruiting government personnel for the “traffic-light” coalition: between representation, loyalty and competence.
The new federal government of SPD, Greens, and FDP has set itself an ambitious agenda. For its implementation, government personnel is of considerable importance. This article examines how standard recruitment criteria for top executive positions – representation, loyalty, and competence – are reflected in the personnel profile of the “traffic-light” government. The analysis includes the 17 cabinet members, the 37 parliamentary state secretaries and state ministers as well as the 34 state secretaries. Overall, the personnel profile of the Scholz government is heavily partisan. Its outstanding feature is a high share of women in all office categories. At the same time, the recruitment patterns differ between the three coalition parties. The SPD’s governing personnel reflects not only the chancellor’s dominant role of in appointments but also the difficulties of achieving a balance between (gen- der) representation, loyalty, and competence in view of the inner-party power architecture. In the case of the Greens there is a clear emphasis on women’s representation and party loyalty, while the FDP’s government personnel is characterized by a combination of personal loyalty at cabinet level and competence orientation in the other offices. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 2, pp. 344 – 364]
Sairinger, Lukas: “Taking a chance on more democracy?!” Lowering the voting age for federal elections in Germany.
Lowering the voting age for federal elections in Germany from 18 to 16 years has been discussed for several years. Numerous political forces endeavor to give minors the opportunity to participate in democratic decision-making by lowering the voting age. The coalition agreement between SPD, Greens, and FDP also contains plans for lowering the voting age to 16. In addition to sociological aspects, there are, however, notable questions from the point of view of the constitutional law that must be considered. Various comparison bases for age limits within the whole legal system must be carefully examined, especially regarding the suitability for justifying a lowering of the voting age. It should be noted that this ought to be justified independently of any basis for comparison; it should be exclusively based on the democratic ability of citizens to participate in the communication process between citizens and parliament. This assessment is the sole responsibility of the constitution-amending legislature. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 2, pp. 365 – 381]
Pyta, Wolfram: Berlin instead of Bonn: the Bundestag decision of June 20, 1991 to relocate the government and parliament as a result of cross-party decision-making. Cross-Party decision-making is an exception in the parliamentary culture of the Federal Republic of Germany, since the governmental majority and the opposition face each other in parliament due to their functional difference. The article examines the question which procedures can be used to coordinate parliamentary decision-making, if the aforemen- tioned dualism of government factions and opposition factions does not work. The Bundestag’s decision of June 20, 1991 to relocate the government and parliament from Bonn to Berlin serves as an example here. On the one hand, the voting behavior of Baden-Württemberg CDU MPs who voted for Berlin shows the decisive role of the state groups (Landesgruppen), especially in such exceptional constellations. On the other hand, a close interdependence of politics on the state and federal level is recognizable, whereby in the case of Baden-Württemberg it was the CDU Landesgruppe that was interwoven with the CDU faction in the state parliament (Landtag). At the same time, the example shows that cross- party group motions not only serve to pacify within parties but also represent a process to constitute the will of the people – not in form of a plebiscite, but through intra-parliamentary balance. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 2, pp. 409 – 433]
Jesse, Eckhard: Representation vs. representativeness. Wolfgang Schäuble and his speech as chairman of seniority.
With now almost 50 years of service as a member of the Bundestag, Wolfgang Schäuble is a parliamentarian dyed in the wool. He has earned great merits not only in parliament but also in the government. Schäuble’s activities in the CDU were less fortunate. His speech as “Alterspräsident” (chairman by seniority) on October 26, 2021 is an impressive example of unagitated criticism of identity politics. Group affiliations are not congruent with political positions. The key message is: “Let’s not confuse representation with representativeness.” Further central points of the speech are convincing. Schäuble has rendered outstanding services to parliamentarianism – not only with this speech. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 2, pp. 434 – 440]
Hartmann, Oskar and Michael Lindner: Building regional multi-member constituencies following patterns of administrative districts.
On the backdrop of the numerous proposals for the reform of the electoral law in recent years here variations of multi-member regional constituencies are inspected, each of which elect several representatives to the German parliament (Bundestag). This way, a stable size of parliament and proportional distribution of seats among parties can be guaranteed. Moreover, participation of electors on selecting personnel for the parliament can be intensified. The authors prefer simple and efficient casting of four votes for individual candidates or one general vote for a party’s list in a regional constituency. Their specific proposal is to establish 43 regional multi-member constituencies that simultaneously are present or former administrative districts (“Regierungsbezirke”) and in case of Länder of small populations, congruent to the Land. Such a structure of constituencies aligns with people’s psychological identification with their home districts, which in many cases have existed f or centuries within the same or similar borders. [ZParl, vol. 53 (2022), no. 2, pp. 441 – 451]