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German top court gives way to complaint on voting system

German top court gives way to complaint on voting system

25-07-2012

According to this morning’s judgment by Germany’s top constitutional lawyers, the German voting system infringes the German constitution (“Grundgesetz”). This verdict follows the constitutional complaint by our partner organization “Mehr Demokratie” and “wahlrecht.de” who had filed a lawsuit against Germany’s federal electoral system in December last year. The two organizations had argued that overhang mandates (“Überhangmandate”) and the negative weight of votes (“negatives Stimmrecht”) created by Germany’s voting system distorted fair, transparent and equal elections as stipulated in Germany’s constitution (“Grundgesetz”).

Germany’s governing parties, the Christian Democratic Party and the Liberals, had been asked to reform Germany’s voting system within three years following a judgment by the German top constitutional court in 2008. Subsequently, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals worked out a reform they passed in the Parliament against the votes of the opposition parties. Mehr Demokratie and wahlrecht.de lodged their constitutional complaint against this reform. The complaint “Wahlen ohne Überhang” was supported by more than 3000 German citizens.

Following today’s judgement the German Parliament once again has to propose a reform. In view of Germany’s next elections in autumn 2013 there is need for urgent action. Mehr Demokratie has worked out a proposal that strengthens the voters’ influence and increases the personal composition of the Parliament. The organization calls on all German voters to support the proposal that will be put forward to the German Parliament. The pledge is available at https://www.mehr-demokratie.de/wahlrecht-urteil.html

Background

Overhang mandates can arise from Germany’s “2-vote-system” that foresees to give one vote to a candidate in a constituency and the other vote to a candidate that was placed on an overall list by the political party. The winning candidate of the constituency is guaranteed a seat in the German federal parliament, while the candidates on the list get a seat proportionally to the votes the party gained. When the voter decides to split both votes and to give them to different parties imbalances are created that benefit the governing/ opposition parties without necessarily corresponding to the voters’ actual will (“negatives Stimmgewicht”).

More information: www.mehr-demokratie.de; www.wahlrecht.de

Text by Cora Pfafferott

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