Planned electoral law reform: CSU and left threaten constitutional lawsuits
The traffic light wants to see fewer people sitting in the Bundestag. The Union and the left criticize this and threaten to boycott the electoral reform.
The compromise on the electoral law reform found by the traffic light coalition has met with massive resistance from the Union and the Left Party. CSU leader Markus Söder and Left Party leader Janine Wissler threatened on Monday with a lawsuit before the Federal Constitutional Court against the plans, which are expected to be decided by the Bundestag on Friday. SPD leader Saskia Esken, on the other hand, said that it had been possible to moderately limit the number of seats in the Bundestag.
The electoral law reform is to be launched in order to limit the number of MPs in the Bundestag – there are currently 736 MPs, although the standard size is only 598 mandates.
In January, the Bundestag discussed an amendment for the first time, which provided for a limit to 598 mandates. At the weekend, the factions of the traffic light coalition agreed on a number of 630 mandates. They also decided to abolish the basic mandate clause, which had previously made it possible to form a parliamentary group in the Bundestag with three direct mandates won.
The Union’s two proposals
CDU General Secretary Mario Czaja criticized the “traffic light” for not having sought a compromise with the Union. It is common practice in electoral law to include the strongest opposition faction. What the coalition is now planning is “simply a circumvention of the citizens’ will,” said Czaja. Despite all willingness to compromise, the Union cannot agree to this.
Czaja was particularly bothered by the fact that not every constituency winner should have a secure seat in the Bundestag. The CDU general secretary said the Union had made two proposals. One is that of a real two-vote system: 299 MPs should be elected directly, 299 via the list. The second was also introduced by the Union in the Bundestag in January. It envisages reducing the number of constituencies to 270 and allowing up to 15 overhang mandates without compensation for the other parties.
CSU boss Söder said about the traffic light plans: “We actually see it as an attack on democracy.” The CSU will not agree to the proposal and will prepare a lawsuit. The party considers the plans to be clearly unconstitutional and does not believe that the new regulation will get through before the Federal Constitutional Court. Söder also criticized the planned abolition of the basic mandate clause. Because of this clause, the left is in faction strength in the Bundestag, although it only managed 4.9 percent in the last federal election.
Left examines lawsuit
Left leader Janine Wissler also accused the “Ampel” of having advanced the reform without involving the opposition. It is “constitutionally more than questionable” if a constituency winner does not get a mandate. The deletion of the basic mandate clause was done “like a pen stroke”. For them it is perfectly clear that there will be constitutional lawsuits, and the left is also examining this.
SPD leader Esken said the compromise had been discussed intensively and was aimed at permanently limiting the size of the Bundestag. “That’s why we agreed on the current model.” The direct mandates could also be retained “mostly”, the will of the voters would have weight here.
Green Party leader Ricarda Lang said that the fact that the grand coalition failed to significantly downsize the Bundestag during the past legislative period has cost parliament its trust. It was not easy negotiations up to the now found solution.
FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai said the FDP had always said that it was incredibly important to have the Union on board with the reform. However, the CDU did not make use of this, and the CSU, in turn, had very successfully prevented changes to the electoral law in the past. The compromise that has now been found is impressive and leads to the goal of reducing the size of the Bundestag.