With a change in electoral law, MPs from the traffic light parties want to reduce the number of seats in the Bundestag to 598 again. With 736 mandates, it is currently larger than ever.
The new proposal leaves the number of 299 constituencies untouched. In the past two legislative periods, a reform of the electoral law failed mainly because the CSU and CDU strictly refused to reduce the number of constituencies.
Only one thing would change at the ballot box: voters would be able to cast three votes instead of the previous two.
The initiative comes from the representatives of the SPD, Greens and FDP – Sebastian Hartmann, Till Steffen and Konstantin Kuhle – in the commission set up by the Bundestag to reform electoral law and modernize parliamentary work. They published it on Wednesday in a name article in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”.
Hartmann said in Berlin that it was a “personal proposal” from the three MPs. “This rules out oversized, non-workable and too expensive Bundestags.”
According to the proposal, the number of mandates each party is entitled to in a federal state should be calculated on the basis of the second votes – called list votes by the chairmen. She does not get more mandates, so that the Bundestag always has 598 seats.
If a party achieves more direct mandates via the first vote – the chairmen speak of personal votes – then the candidates with the worst personal vote results in the country go away empty-handed. So far they have been allowed to keep these as overhang mandates, the other parties receive compensatory mandates in return.
However, the respective constituency will still be represented in the Bundestag. With a second first vote, the so-called substitute vote, the voters can state a further preference. The substitute vote cast for the direct candidate who does not get a chance is then added to the candidate who has ticked the box.
The constituency mandate is given to the person who receives the most votes in the constituency. If a party gets fewer constituency mandates than it is entitled to based on the list vote result, the remaining mandates are allocated via the list as before.
According to this model, overhang and compensation mandates are prevented, which have previously caused the Bundestag to grow to XL dimensions. In the federal elections last September there were 34 overhang mandates, of which the CSU alone caused 11, the CDU 12, the SPD 10 and the AfD 1. The result was 104 compensatory mandates.
“We expect people in this country to make changes,” said Green MP Steffen, referring to the traffic light policy. “That’s why it’s so important for politics to start with itself.”
The downsizing of the Bundestag is also about the “performance of the democratic system”. The FDP politician Kuhle emphasized: “With the muddling through of the past few years and the mutual finger pointing of all political parties, we will not get any further.” Kuhle warned of a “loss of reputation” if a downsizing of parliament does not succeed.
CDU and CSU, however, immediately criticized it. The CSU MP Michael Frieser told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” that the proposal was “actually a well-known model of the non-allocation of constituencies that had already been won”.
The first parliamentary secretary of the Union faction, Thorsten Frei, accused the coalition in the newspaper of devaluing the constituency idea. The CDU politician also criticized the actions of the three MPs: “It is very bad traffic light style to anticipate the deliberations of the electoral law commission.”