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Bundestag: electoral reform: sharp criticism from the opposition

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The Union and the left were probably not in agreement for a long time: both parties sharply criticize the planned electoral law reform of the traffic light government. The left faction wants to take a decisive step.

The left-wing faction in the Bundestag has announced a constitutional complaint against the electoral law reform of the traffic light coalition. “I say very clearly: We will also try to contact the Federal Constitutional Court,” said Dietmar Bartsch, the leader of the left parliamentary group, on the RTL/ntv channels. Everything will be tried to ensure that this law does not become reality – ultimately it is an attack on democracy.

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The head of the Union faction said that after a Bundestag resolution, further action would be discussed. CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt called the traffic light’s approach “simply disrespectful and unfair”, and it must “be reviewed by the constitutional court from our point of view”.

The plans of the traffic light envisage a reduction of the Bundestag from 736 to permanently 630 MPs after the next election in 2025. In addition to the overhang and equalization mandates, the so-called basic mandate clause is to be deleted, according to which parties can also enter the Bundestag in fraction strength if they receive less than five percent of the second votes. To do this, they must win at least three direct mandates via the first votes. That was true of the left in the 2021 election. The basic mandate clause was still included in the draft law three weeks ago, but suddenly it was deleted, Bartsch complained.

Does the reform affect the opposition unilaterally?

The plans expressly concern the opposition in the Bundestag, so the traffic light carved a right to vote, said Dobrindt. You share the goal of downsizing the Bundestag and remain open to talks. The previous talks with the traffic light representatives had been constructive but unsuccessful.

SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich defended the project of the traffic light parliamentary groups and justified the deletion of the clause with possible lawsuits against it. “The public hearing has shown that the basic mandate clause is already an element that cannot be justified either under constitutional or electoral law,” he writes in a letter to the Social Democratic MPs in the Bundestag, which is available to the German Press Agency.

In addition, the clause represents a breach of the system because it gives the wrong impression of an election of persons, even though the federal election is a proportional representation. “In the new electoral system, this is even more important and can serve as a gateway for a successful complaint against the law before the Federal Constitutional Court,” the letter said.

CSU: Damage to the democratic culture

According to Dobrindt, deleting the basic mandate clause is a threat to the federal principle and a disregard for the principle of federalism, which is reflected in the Basic Law. The clause is an essential part of a federal principle, without which the CSU will not agree to the plans. The CSU politician also criticized that the traffic light plans would damage the democratic culture and cooperation between the parties in the Bundestag.

However, Mützenich writes in his letter that the reform strengthens the legitimacy of the parliament. “With this law, we are proving that politicians are able to pass reforms whose restrictions affect them and are thus sending an important signal against the growing disenchantment with politics.”

The leadership of the Greens defended the traffic light plans. Party leader Ricarda Lang said that the grand coalition of the Union and the SPD had not been able to initiate a reform in recent years that would noticeably reduce the size of the Bundestag. “And honestly that was a big failure.” This has cost confidence in democracy. Green parliamentary group leader Katharina Dröge expressly invited the opposition to approve the traffic light bill and pointed out that every parliamentary group in the Bundestag will be affected by a downsizing of parliament.

Source: Stern

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