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German top court bans threshold for EU elections

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Image of 3 per cent election threshold

German top court bans threshold for EU elections

26-02-2014

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled today that the three per cent barring clause enacted in Germany for the European elections is unconstitutional.

The German Parliament had adopted the three per cent threshold in June 2013 following a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court in November 2011, which had stipulated to abandon the clause of five per cent existing in Germany at the time. The banning of the threshold means a success for Democracy International’s partner organisation, “Mehr Demokratie”, which had lodged a constitutional complaint against the three per cent clause with 1099 German citizens.
 
„Equal representation of every single, valid vote is the core principle of democracy. Therefore we are delighted to learn about today’s decision by Germany’s top constitutional court to ban the election threshold ahead of the next European elections. It means that citizens’ votes for smaller political parties will be fully respected instead of being swept under the carpet”, states Gerald Häfner, chairperson of Democracy International.

The election threshold is the minimum share of the vote that a political party requires in order to be represented in a parliament. Proponents of the threshold argue the European Parliament would lose its capacity to act if every political party was represented. However, more than 160 political parties are already in the European Parliament today. An increase of the amount of political parties in the European Parliament would not have a huge effect as they gather in “political groups” anyway.

“Democracy International works towards a fair, transparent and democratic European electoral law with trans-European lists and without any kind of threshold. We therefore welcome today's decision and congratulate our partner organisation Mehr Demokratie for their successful constitutional complaint”, so Gerald Häfner on behalf of Democracy International, which unites democracy activists from around the world.

NB: This press release was picked up by Bloomberg News, Reuters and other media in Germany, Turkey, US and the UK.

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