It is not just the recent reform of the electoral law to reduce the size of the Bundestag that is a case for the Constitutional Court. The highest German court also had to deal with the previous reform.
The Federal Constitutional Court has declared the electoral law reform implemented by the then grand coalition in 2020 to be constitutional. 216 MPs from the FDP, the Greens and the Left, who were all in the opposition at the time and had sued, failed in Karlsruhe. Your request is unfounded, said the presiding judge of the Second Senate, Doris König.
It was about the regulations for the allocation of seats, according to which the current Bundestag came into being in 2021. The aim of the reform was to reduce the size of the Bundestag, which had become increasingly larger due to overhang and compensation mandates. One point of criticism, however, was that overhang mandates were only compensated for by compensatory mandates for other parties from the fourth mandate onwards.
Overhang mandates arose when a party won more direct mandates than the number of seats it was entitled to based on the second vote result. Compensatory mandates for the other parties should ensure that in the end the distribution of seats corresponds to the vote ratio. It is sufficiently determined in the challenged law how and to what point the number of seats in the Bundestag is to be increased, said König.
The traffic light coalition’s own electoral law reform
The version of the electoral law that was now at issue at the Constitutional Court is already outdated. The traffic light coalition made up of the SPD, Greens and FDP had launched its own electoral law reform. This goes much further than the previous reform and is in turn heavily criticized by the current opposition. Lawsuits against this are also pending before the Federal Constitutional Court.
The verdict that has now been announced is important for the planned repeat election in the federal capital. In some Berlin electoral districts, the 2021 federal election is to be repeated due to glitches on election day following a decision by the Bundestag. On December 19th, the Federal Constitutional Court wants to announce in how many electoral districts this has to happen and whether it is enough to only cast the second vote. The repeat election would have to follow the same rules as the main election.
The standard size of the Bundestag was originally set at 598 members. However, there are currently 736 parliamentarians, more than ever before. Basically everyone agrees that there is a need for reform. The only question that has been debated for years is how. Because everyone wants to avoid changes coming at their own expense.
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.