Kolkmann, Michael: Back to Divided Government: The U.S. Congressional Elections of November 8, 2022.
The 2022 Congressional elections have ended with ambivalent results. Typically, the party of the governing president loses seats in midterm elections, sometimes several dozens. In this regard, President Joe Biden and his party managed to achieve a surprisingly good result. While his Democrats lost their narrow majority to Republicans in the U. S. House of Representatives, they succeeded in keeping their equally narrow majority in the U. S. Senate. In the 118th Congress, Washington will be dominated by “divided government”, meaning one party has control over the House and the other party dominates the Senate and the White House. In regard to its composition, the new Congress is more diverse than ever. The elec-tion of Republican Kevin McCarthy as new speaker after 15 ballots indicates that, due to its heterogenous membership, it will be very hard in the upcoming two years to secure majorities for far reaching legislative projects. Republicans have already announced that they will focus on investigating various policy areas of the Biden administration as well as the president and his family himself. After last year’s midterm election, all eyes will be on the congressional and presidential elections of 2024 which will overshadow current political developments in the United States. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 1, pp. 3 – 22]
Cammisa, Anne Marie: Dragging Congress into the 21st Century: Creating Policies and Improving Processes in an Age of Pandemic and Polarization.
Covid-19 presented a major external shock to the United States governmental system. The system itself, crafted in the 18th century, was not designed to easily absorb this shock. The U.S. government is divided by the Constitution in two important ways: through a system of federalism in which state power vies with federal power, and through a separated system at the national level in which Congress, the President and the Supreme Court wrestle with each other over lawmaking and policy authority. By 2019, the system was stymied by increasing partisan polarization, magnified by the Presidency of Donald Trump. Responses to Coronavirus would have to be shepherded through a labyrinthian path and would face horizontal (separated powers) and vertical (state, federal, local) challenges, in addition to partisan wrangling. At a more micro level Congress itself faced, in addition to all of the hurdles already mentioned, specific problems in what could be termed “capacity”. Congressional policymaking relies on physical presence—in committees, on the floor, in party caucuses and in member organizations—to get its business done . With the nation and the world facing quarantines, lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, how could Congress main-tain physical presence? Should it? What alternatives might there be? Along with the rest of the country, Congressional staff adjusted to working from home . Maintaining national security during remote work would be problematic, certainly, but even more basic problems were exposed as it came to light that many congressional offices lacked the technology and equipment to provide staffers with secure means to get their jobs done from remote locations. Covid-19 made clear that the United States Congress was facing 21st Century problems in an organization with 20th (or even 19th or 18th) century procedures and structures. How could it respond to the immediate problem? And, perhaps more importantly, what would be the path forward once the country moved past the crisis? [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 1, pp. 23 – 34]
Adorf, Philipp: The Covid-19 Struggle in the U.S.—A Partisan Political Pandemic?
From its very beginning, the Covid-19 pandemic was politicized in the United States. Then-President Donald Trump saw it was little more than another attempt by his political oppo-nents and the media to harm his electoral chances. The Democratic camp viewed Trump’s actions as another example of the President’s incompetence and the growing anti-science sentiment within the Republican Party . The fact that supporters of both parties interpreted the pandemic differently can be attributed in particular to the growth in “affective” polarization. The political opponent is now increasingly perceived as an enemy that is wrong on all issues and often seen as a threat to the country’s values and its democracy . Accordingly, masks, social distancing rules, and vaccinations were viewed from a partisan vantage point that hindered efforts to combat the pandemic in a unified manner. In other political areas, the growing antipathy between the two camps for one another can be expected to increasingly shape specific policy preferences as well. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 1, pp. 35 – 51]
Lemke, Christiane: Prospects for Transatlantic Relations after the 2022 U.S. Congressional Elections. Following the electoral success of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives, this article explores the implications of this change in transatlantic relations. What is the position of the Republicans and which changes can be expected in this electoral cycle? Can Europe still count on a reliable partner in Washington, or will the House block Biden’s foreign policy agenda? The article discusses different scenarios for the future of transatlantic relations resulting from the political changes in Washington. The theoretical approach is based on the assumption that domestic constellations and controversies shape foreign policy. In particular, polarization between Republicans and Democrats influences foreign and security policy decisions. The article finds that transatlantic relations will be shaped by ten-sions both within the system of government and in the party system itself in the upcoming years. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 1, pp. 52 – 68]
Wurthmann, L. Constantin: Cooperation or Demarcation? Attitudes towards the CDU/CSU’s Oppositional Behaviour to the Left and the AfD.
Should the CDU/CSU open up itself politically to the Left and the AfD? This question has recently been asked more frequently, especially in the east of the Federal Republic of Ger-many, although the CDU/CSU, as well as the common Bundestag parliamentary group, have unequivocal positions on this. On the basis of data collected after the 2021 federal election, this article examines how different forms of oppositional cooperation between the Christian Democrats and the Left or the AfD are perceived by the population and among those who consider voting for the CDU/CSU as a viable option. The analysis shows a very strong rejection by the population and also by potential CDU/CSU voters of any form of cooperation with the AfD—from approval of AfD motions to opening up for coalitions. Less clear in their rejection are the attitudes towards forms of cooperation with the Left, although here, too, a tendency towards rejection can be observed. For an opening towards the AfD and a rejection of the same towards the Left, it is above all the individual self-positioning as very conservative that shows a very strong effect on such an attitude . In the former case in particular, however, these conservatives are a marginalized minority—even in the potential electorate of CDU and CSU. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 1, pp. 69 – 86]
Wimmel, Andreas: Opposition to the Implementation of EU Law in the Bundestag.
One function of national parliaments is to transpose EU law into the domestic legal order. This article examines whether and under what conditions opposition parties in the Bundestag support such an implementation. The results of a statistical analysis of all votes on national transposition laws since 1990 show a stable trend toward a competitive opposition, which is also manifested in the voting behavior of pro-European opposition parties. In addition, the relatively high rejection rates cannot be explained by a critical attitude toward the substantive translation into national law, because opposition is voiced not only to directives, but also to regulations and ECJ rulings that leave the government hardly any room for maneuver in transposition . Both findings confirm the EU politicization thesis, according to which European politics has become an integral part of national party compe-tition . [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 1, pp. 87 – 104]
Jesse, Eckhard: The Five Percent Clause from a Political Science Perspective: History, Effect, Criticism, Reforms.
The five percent hurdle for the Bundestag has proven its worth and should be retained. On the one hand, it was able to keep splinter parties out of the Bundestag and, on the other hand, it did not block the way for newly founded parties to enter the federal parliament. However, the basic mandate clause and the minority clause undermine the meaning of the five percent hurdle. They are worthy of abolition. Instead, each voter should get a secondary vote. It would then come into play if the voter voted for a party that failed at the five percent hurdle. Such a reform would retain the benefits of the ratchet clause and eliminate its disadvantages. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 1, pp. 105 – 123]
Kitzing, Michael: A Handbook of the History of Political Parties in Germany from 1861 to 1933. Reflections on a Decades-old Research Desideratum. The two handbooks of the history of political parties in Germany between 1789 and 1945 that Dieter Fricke published in Jena in the 1960s through to the 1980s continue to be considered the gold standard for research on this subject. Yet, though Fricke’shandbooks offer a solid basis of facts, they are still characterized by socialist rhetoric and, in addition, are now outdated with respect to methodology. This essay examines the following: Which issues are pertinent today with respect to the political parties of the German Empire and the Weimar Republic? Similar to Fricke’s approach, we continue to ask questions regarding the context of origin, the objectives, the organization, and the short-term political activity of political parties. Yet, above and beyond that, the cultural-historical aspects such as questioning the relationship of the political party to the populace in general as well as the self-staging of the respective political parties are to be discussed. In the same way, a look will be taken at the international interconnectedness of the political parties, just as handbooks today should focus more strongly on the political parties in the member states of the Ger-man Empire . Finally, in addition, the essay discusses how a contribution to political education can likewise be achieved in connection with the handbook on the history of political parties in Germany. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 1, pp. 124 – 142]
Horst, Patrick: From Obama to Clinton, Sanders and Warren to Biden: The Democratic Party between Populism, Pragmatism and Progressivism.
Populism, pragmatism and progressivism have characterized the evolution of the Democratic Party from Barack Obama to Joe Biden. The expectations fueled by Obama’s populism have led to disappointment, social protest and a “socialist awakening” (John Judis), especially among younger generations. Progressive politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were able to mobilize this disappointment in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic primaries. It is true that centrist and pragmatic presidential contenders Hillary Clintonand Joe Biden won; nevertheless, the party’s ideological slide to the left, fueled by staunch opposition to President Donald Trump, has taken the party’s governing program and governance further to the left, both federally and in the individual states. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 1, pp. 143 – 161]
Adorf, Philipp: The U.S.-Republicans in the Midterm Election Year: Under Donald Trump’s Control or on a Path to Freedom from the Populist President?
Republicans went into the 2022 election year expecting to capture both chambers of Congress. The eventual results turned out to be disappointing, however. The seizure of parliamentary power was hindered by their own cadre of candidates in particular. Inexperienced and often ideologically radical candidates lost several races that had seemed promising for the Republican camp just a few months earlier. Donald Trump’s role in the selection process can be cited as a key reason for this mediocre showing. Candidates loyal to Trumpfared noticeably worse than other Republican contenders for elected offices. Even despite these disappointing results, today’s Republican Party has not turned away from the former president’s national-populist agenda. Even beyond the radical fringe, the outcome of the previous presidential election is still called into question. Moreover, majorities of Republican voters support a variety of Trump’s sometimes anti-democratic positions. The Republican Party therefore continues to be on a path towards further radicalization. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 1, pp. 162 – 179]
Schmahl, Stefanie: Electoral System of Linked Proportional Majority Rule (Capping System) versus Modified Real Two-vote Suffrage (Segmented Electoral System): Which System is Constitutional? —At the same Time a Reply to Joachim Behnke in Issue 3/2022 of ZParl.
With the aim of limiting the size of the Bundestag to 598 members, the government plans to reform the federal electoral law based on an electoral system that links direct mandates fully to the proportional majority rule (capping system). There are various constitutional objections to this election model. Above all, it is questionable not to award direct mandates in the constituencies against the will of the majority of voters, but to make this allocation dependent on a coverage by the main (list) vote. A majority rule dependent on proportional-ity is alien to the principle of democracy. In contrast, a real two-vote suffrage (segmented electoral system) is constitutionally unproblematic. According to this system, some of the deputies are elected by majority vote in the constituencies and some of the deputies by nationwide proportional representation according to state lists. There is no offsetting of con-stituency and list votes. Concerns that two-vote suffrage puts smaller parties at a disadvantage can be countered by an asymmetric electoral system that shifts the balance and weighting toward proportional representation. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 1, pp. 180 – 192]