Englische Abstracts 3-2023
Rüsenberg, Robin, Lorenz Schleyer and Sven T. Siefken: In the depths of the coalition negotiations 2005 to 2021: From the working group on health policy to the coalition contract.
Coalition negotiations play a key role in government formation, but they have not been analyzed much in detail. In Germany, the past decades have seen an ongoing differentiation of their organization, leading to a complex multi-level negotiation structure with a policy-oriented division of labor. Studying the working group on health policy in the coalition negotiations following the German federal elections from 2005 to 2021 shows how far-reaching changes between the working group draft version and the final contract were. This sheds light on how the negotiation processes work and how their results are represented in the coalition treaties. Policy experts from the Bundestag and the state level, who are members of the working groups, have the opportunity to exercise great influence on the final results, especially if their working group has non-conflictual results. But negotiation leaders do exercise influence, particularly so on topics that are of relevance for party competition. The same goes for budget experts, select individuals and representatives of state interests. The method for analysis is instructive for other policy areas. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 3, pp. 483 – 508]
Rosar, Ulrich and Thomas Poguntke: Via Twitter into office: Karl Lauterbach, the Covid-pandemic and the federal health ministry.
This article argues that Karl Lauterbach accomplished the office of federal secretary of health mainly due to his Twitter activities and the concomitant exposure in political TV talk shows. Lauterbach had little intra-party support after his failed bid for SPD leadership. He did not hold a senior office within his parliamentary group or within the health policy community. The Land party of North Rhine-Westphalia had placed him on a hopeless position of the Land list for the federal elections. Finally, he played a minor role in the coalition negotiations and did not lead the talks on health policy for his party. With a view to all known informal rules for the selection of government ministers, he was certainly not part of the pool of likely candidates. The detailed quantitative analyses of Lauterbach’s Twitter and media activities show that it was most likely this self-generated public visibility which explains his appointment. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 3, pp. 509 – 531]
Probst, Lothar: The parliamentary elections in Bremen on May 14, 2023: Social-Democrats again strongest party. Red-green-red coalition continues.
After a rather boring election campaign the Social-Democrats (SPD) managed to achieve the position of the strongest party again which they lost to the Christian-Democrats (CDU) in 2019. The CDU and the Left Party defended more or less their last election results whereas the Greens came up with a loss of more than five per cent of the votes. Apparently, the performance of the Greens in the three-party-coalition with the SPD and the Left Party obtained only low credit by the voters. With 5,1 per cent the Liberals were very close to enter the parliament. The SPD as the strongest party invited the Greens and the Left Party as well as the CDU to exploratory talks but came up very quickly with the decision to continue with the former left coalition. The coalition contract issued by the three coalition parties formulates ambitious goals with respect to investigations in the infrastructure, the ecological transformation of industries, and the increase of personnel in the education system, but remains vague with regard to their financing. The coalition plans to use money for many of these projects from the so-called climate-fonds that was already adopted in the last election period. Against this background the CDU announced that it will call the Bremer Staatsgerichtshof for a judicial review of constitutionality because the budgetary rights of the parliament may be violated by credit authorization without the parliament. Finally, the coalition decided to reallocate senate portfolios. Five portfolios went to the SPD, two to the Greens and the Left Party. Additionally, the representative of Bremen for national and European affairs from the SPD joins the senate in the function of a state councilor. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 3, pp. 532 – 553]
Leunig, Sven: The AfD as a trigger for rule changes? On the rules of the age presidency in the Bundestag and state parliaments after 2014.
In the fall of 2017, before the Bundestag elections, the 18th German Bundestag decided that in future the first session of a new election period would no longer be opened by the oldest member in terms of years of age, but by the one who has been a member of the Bundestag the longest. Such a change is permissible on the basis of parliamentary self-organization rights. However, it has been suggested in the media and also by the AfD that the amendment was not intended to safeguard the ability of the age president to chair the session, but rather to avoid the age presidency of an AfD deputy. Against the background of previous age presidencies of AfD deputies in state parliaments since 2014, this paper examines the question of whether such a connection can actually be assumed in the amendment of the rules of procedure of the Bundestag and those of three other state parliaments. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 3, pp. 534 – 570]
Lüscher, Sandro: Parliamentary elections under the biproportional divisor method with standard rounding in the light of territorial representation. An empirical approach to a conceptual dilemma.
The “doppelter Pukelsheim”, as the biproportional divisor method with standard rounding is colloquially called, enjoys great popularity in Switzerland. For good reason: the new method of distributing parliamentary seats among the parties better reflects the will of the voters than conventional PR-based methods. However, the formula, which was used for the first time in 2007 for the cantonal elections in Zurich, has a mathematical property that works against a fair representation of local electorates. Specifically, unequal participation rates and unequal proportions of eligible voters in the constituencies subtly lead to unequal influence of the individual constituencies on the overall result. On the basis of the Zurich municipal elections 2022 and the Graubünden cantonal elections 2022, I explain why this is problematic and then show how the representation of the constituency electorates could be optimized with a minimal intervention in the calculation formula. The evaluation shows that, in both cases, seat shifts between the parties occur. This can be explained to a large extent by the different mobilization of the constituency electorates and only to a lesser extent by the different proportions of eligible voters in the constituencies. Furthermore, initial evidence suggests that these seat shifts are not random but are related to the demographics of the party electorates. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 3, pp. 571 – 595]
Möhring, Jakob: On the need for reform in the election of members of parliament in constituencies: Comments on the controversial change in electoral law.
In March 2023, the German Bundestag passed legislation to reform the electoral law with the votes of the governing coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP to prevent the parliament from growing beyond its regular number of seats. Contrary to an initial draft bill from January 2023, the base mandate clause (Grundmandatsklausel) was also abolished, not only overhang seats and compensatory seats. This amendment, which was included in the bill at short notice, reduces the electoral chances of smaller parties with regional strongholds. It therefore prevented support from the Left party and any conceivable agreement with the CDU/CSU. Passing an electoral system into law with only a simple parliamentary majority calls for particular attention that the new system is equally fair for all parties. The impression that tactical political considerations may have influenced the governing parties jeopardizes the acceptance of this controversial electoral law reform. The abolishment of the base mandate clause impairs the democratic principle of representing the political will expressed in an election. This major legislative change is neither justified by the logic of the new electoral system, nor is it directly related to the declared aim of reducing the number of seats in the Bundestag. Without comparable compensation the electoral reform remains open to constitutional challenge. The reform refrains from clarifying the legislative role of an electoral system combining personal and proportional representation. The disputes about overhang seats and the base mandate clause shows, however, that personal representation within the electoral system is in need of reform. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 3, pp. 596 – 610]
Gschwend, Thomas, Oliver Rittmann and Lisa-Marie Werner: Between electoral district reduction and closeness to the citizen: Evidence on the current discussion on electoral law reform in Baden-Württemberg.
Discussions on the reform of the electoral law have so far mostly been conducted without the perspective of the sovereign. Therefore, given the current reform discussion and the change of the electoral law in Baden-Württemberg, we examine whether reducing the number of electoral districts leads citizens to perceive the relationship between citizens and representatives as less close. This concern is often cited as an argument against increasing the size of electoral districts. Already now, the electoral districts of the Landtag Baden-Württemberg vary in size. This allows us to analyze whether citizens perceive the relationship between representatives and themselves to be closer in smaller districts. We analyze this question based on the data of the “Demokratie-Monitoring Baden-Württemberg 2016/2017”. 2.501 respondents from all electoral districts answered questions on their perceived political responsiveness and satisfaction with democracy, which allows us to measure the closeness of the relationship between representatives and citizens, at least indirectly. Our results and model calculations show that respondents in larger districts do not feel more distant to their representatives than respondents in smaller districts. Our results are consistent with similar studies at the federal level. Thus, we conclude that reducing the number of electoral districts can be a sensible remedy against an undesirably large parliament. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 3, pp. 611 – 624]
Kück, Emma and Simon Meyer: Private political financing: Legal situation and need for regulation.
Private political financing is protected by constitutional law. Private persons supporting political parties by donations, sponsoring or other financial instruments exercise their fundamental right to political participation. However, private political financing carries the risk of an excessive influence of financially strong citizens and companies potentially affecting democratic equality. The legislator resolves the tension between the conflicting constitutional interests not by a complete ban of donations to political parties, but by obligations of transparency and partial prohibitions of accepting donations. Nevertheless, due to the relatively high publicity limit and the non-consideration of alternative financing opportunities, such as sponsoring, there remain loopholes in the law on political parties enabling a circumvention of donation rules. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 3, pp. 625 – 637]
Kempf, Udo: The French political parties in transition.
Until 2017 “two blocks” dominated the French political party system. Alternative governments of the left and of the bourgeois-conservative camp have alternated since the 1960s. Due to the drastic losses of the traditional parties as Les Republicains as well as the Socialists and the electoral successes of the liberal-conservative Macron supporters, the supporters of the radical right-wing Marine Le Pen’s movement and the left-wing socialist party under Jean-Luc Mélenchon there has been a new development towards an asymmetry. Since the most recent parliamentary elections in 2022, one can speak of a tripolar system: Alongside Macrons La Republique en Marche (now Renaissance), the right-wing Rassemblement National under Le Pen and the left-wing group La France Insoumise under Mélenchon. The once dominant parties of the Fifth Republic still exist, but are only a shadow of themselves. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 3, pp. 638 – 657]
Schieren, Stefan: The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 in the United Kingdom. Or: the consequences of a Constitutional blind flight.
When David Cameron wanted to become Prime Minister in 2010 he had to accept a Fixed-term Parliaments Act to cement the Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition government. Under the rules of the Act the prime minister no longer had the authority to call elections at a time of his choosing. This power, on which his strong position in the Westminster democracy has rested in the past, was lost. This was one of the intentions of the advocates of the act. Furthermore, a fixed parliament was supposed to make British politics fairer, more inclusive, less confrontational, less tribal and less feeble. In the end the Act did not live up with these expectations. To some extent its flaws were responsible for the “Brexit Blunder” (Jo Murkens). However, it also helped to frustrate any attempt by the Brexiteers to accomplish a no deal-Brexit. Part of this endeavor was the prorogation of Parliament which the Supreme Court adjudicated “unlawful” on 24 September 2019. This judgment on the scope of the Royal prerogative is part of a transformation of the constitution that, accidentally, might have changed the role of the Crown in the constitutional fabric of the United Kingdom. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 3, pp. 658 – 678]
de Ghantuz Cubbe, Giovanni: Problems of political representation. Carlo Mongardini and the contribution of Italian political science.
To what extent does contemporary political science successfully approach political representation with regard to power – that is, in terms of a relationship of domination? The Italian sociologist and political scientist Carlo Mongardini (1938 – 2021) can be considered one of the last adherents of a “classical mindset” in Italian political science focusing on power, its configuration and allocation. For Mongardini political representation is “the highest political formula” that has emerged in modern history. It is, namely, the instrument par excellence by which the relationship of domination between the rulers and the ruled that emerged out of the end of the Ancien Regime takes place. Only a detailed analysis of such relationship’s transformations makes it possible to understand the contemporary challenges to political representation. Along with Mongardini, this paper aims to draw an analytical thread for the study of political representation as it summarizes its basic configuration and the central features of its transformation up to the present. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 3, pp. 679 – 692]