“We will revise the electoral law within the first year in order to prevent the Bundestag from growing in the long term.” This is what the coalition agreement between the SPD, Greens and FDP says. However, it is not foreseeable whether they will complete the reform by December.
The interim report of the Bundestag’s electoral law commission was published on Friday. She did not reach a consensus. There is now the traffic light model, which the coalition can decide quickly – a simple majority is sufficient for the right to vote. But the Union is not moving away from its constitutional doubts about the model.
This is how the further course is indicated: The interim report becomes a resolution of the coalition factions, which then leads to a law that ends up in Karlsruhe shortly afterwards. The coalition wants to stick to the personalized proportional representation in the form that has been in force since 1949.
Basically, majority voting takes place in the constituencies in order to allocate a direct mandate to constituency winners. Half of the 598 seats in the Bundestag are to be filled. The other half will be distributed among candidates on state lists, with second votes determining the overall seat ratio in parliament as before.
Overhang mandates can therefore continue to occur. But there will be no compensatory mandates for this. Instead, in federal states with overhangs (i.e. when the number of constituency winners of a party is greater than its proportional seat entitlement), direct mandates are not allocated until party proportional representation is achieved again. According to the traffic light model, it should hit the constituency winners with the lowest percentage results.
So far, the procedure has usually been given the term capping model – which is why the AfD agrees to the traffic light proposal, because it introduced the capping as its own proposal in the previous electoral term. However, the traffic light avoids the term.
There is talk of the need for a “second vote cover” for direct mandates. They want to establish a quasi-redefinition of the procedure – in practice, this strengthens the priority of proportional representation over majority voting.
In order to avoid constituencies without direct MPs, several solutions are listed in the interim report. The traffic light favors the fact that voters should have a substitute vote in the future – i.e. they should be able to cast a third vote for applicants from other parties, which will then be used to award the direct mandate in a second step. It would then fall to the inferior. Another approach would be that the second-placed player would automatically have a turn.
That is exactly what the Union faction rejects. Their dissenting opinion on the report states “that the non-awarding of constituency seats to candidates who have won the most votes in their constituency is constitutionally extremely problematic”. The allocation to second or third place “violates the democratic majority rule”.
The three experts appointed by the Union are even clearer. In a brief dissenting opinion, the former constitutional judge Rudolf Mellinghoff and the law professors Bernd Grzeszick and Stefanie Schmahl consider the traffic light model to be “unconstitutional”.