Measured by voter turnout, social elections lead a shadowy existence. But this year there is a special feature – with possible effects on other elections in Germany.
Around 52 million people in Germany are called upon to take part in the social elections – 22 million of them online for the first time. “This is a revolution in electoral law,” said the Federal Commissioner for Voting, long-time CDU MP Peter Weiß, the German Press Agency in Berlin. Weiß sees the forthcoming social elections as a pilot project for possible online votes in other elections as well.
In the case of social elections, insured persons and pensioners can determine the social parliaments in Germany until May 31st. Members of the boards of directors of statutory health insurance companies and of the representative meetings of statutory accident and pension insurance companies are elected. Online voting is now possible with Techniker Krankenkasse, DAK-Gesundheit, Barmer, KKH and the commercial health insurance company hhk.
“It makes for a little more prominence,” said Weiß. The commissioner for social elections is hoping for a slightly higher voter turnout than in the most recent social election in 2017, when turnout was around a third. Weiß hopes that younger voters in particular could be reached more intensively.
Discussions on online elections expected
After Easter, those entitled to vote would receive the voting documents. Anyone who decides to vote online can prove their identity with the insurance number on the health card or with their ID card, provided the online function is activated, explained Weiß. Otherwise you can tick a ballot paper and send it back in a red, stamped envelope.
After a planned evaluation of the social election, Weiß expects discussions about whether online elections could also be an alternative to postal voting in other elections. “As a pilot project, it brings great opportunities,” he said. Weiß mentioned elections at chambers of industry and commerce as a possible field of application. But as a test, some political elections could also be held online in the future, says Weiß. “Maybe you start with a local or state election.”
A total of 134 mandates are awarded in the social elections. Insured persons are elected from lists, the candidates come from trade unions and employer organizations, for example, but there are also free lists. According to information in member magazines and on the Internet, the lists set priorities such as more long-Covid rehabilitation or further digitization without overburdening the insured. The results should be available in June.
Payers should have a say
The history of social elections dates back to the 1950s. The idea behind this is that those who pay in should also have a say. All insured persons who pay contributions and are at least 16 years old are entitled to vote. In the past, criticism of social elections was aimed at the fact that many things that the elected bodies decide were largely predetermined by the legislature.
The elected bodies decide, among other things, the budgets of their insurance companies and thus decide on the use of contribution money. They design the range of services, for example in the rehabilitation of the pension insurance, decide on objections to administrative decisions or decide on bonus programs or optional tariffs with the health insurance companies.
Weiß also pointed out the women’s quota, which will be available for the first time in the 2023 social elections. It is 40 percent on the electoral lists for the self-government of the health insurance companies. For the other branches of social security, the 40 percent quota applies as a recommendation.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.