More than 60 million citizens with the right to vote to choose the composition of the Parliament from which the next foreign minister
German defensive democracy is once again facing political anger. On Sunday, September 24, the country’s greatest exponent of temper in political culture will test the discontent of its citizenship.
The aforementioned ‘wehrhafte Demokratie’ , as defined by the political scientist Klaus von Beyme, was the recipe intended to ward off the ghosts of an electoral system that had augmented Nazism. The President of the Republic was withdrawn for the benefit of the Chancellor, barriers were established that would reduce the fragmentation of parties that convulsed the Weimar Republic, and in the prolegomena of World War II, express authorizations granted by allied forces were required to constitute political parties.
The result of all this was, and is today, a representative political system that prevents absolute majorities, and prohibits imperative mandate. That is to say, in the image and likeness of liberal-conservative parliamentarism already defended by philosophers like Edmund Burke in the eighteenth century.
Germany thus joins the group of countries with models of representative and non-direct democracy. In his favor, the anecdotal difference between seats and votes put on so many occasions as an example of proportionality. But would it be imitable in Spain? The invited professor at the Carlos III University of Madrid, Pablo Simón, explains that “it is a system hardly exportable without having passed through models like the United Kingdom previously, in Spain it would be impossible to approve a layout by districts in the image and likeness of the existing in Germany “.
What to choose on September 24
The Basic Law of Bonn, in force since 1949 (German Constitution), formalized the country’s commitment to a cooperative federalism that promotes the development of States (16 Länder), maintaining criteria of equality and solidarity among them.
The bicameral structure of parliamentarism – Bundestag and Bundesrat – facilitates the representation of their interests through the Bundesrat, composed of 69 members elected by the Länder themselves.
On the other hand, in the elections of September 24 the 598 representatives of the Bundestag, the only representative organ of the will of the German people, are elected.
How to vote in Germany
More than 61.5 million Germans will be able to exercise their voting rights on 24 September. The aforementioned Basic Law expresses in its article 38 that the members of the Bundestag are elected by universal, direct, free, equal and secret suffrage, adding that “they are representatives of the whole people and are not subject to orders or instructions, only to his conscience “.
The Bundestag – equivalent to the Spanish Congress – is composed of 598 seats that are elected through a double voting system:
a) Nominal vote (erststimme). 299 seats are allocated by the simple majority in the respective 299 districts. The voter marks on the ballot the name of his personal preference. The one who gets the most votes gets the seat. The equivalent of the American model for the election of congressmen
b) Party Vote (zweitstimme) 299 seats are assigned from closed and blocked lists of matches. This vote determines the composition of Parliament. Once all the votes of each party have been added, they are proportionally distributed among each of the 16 Länder using the Hare Niemayer formula. For the allocation of seats, those who would have obtained the seat directly through the first of the votes have been removed previously.
This double vote has given rise to known as vote-splitting. That is voters who cast their vote in two directions with the intention of expressing what would be their preference before an eventual coalition of government.
In order to avoid the presence of radical parties, a barrier of 5% of the votes (Sperrklausel) has been established since the mid-twentieth century to obtain a seat unless it has been obtained in three or more constituencies.
A record Chancellor
Angela Merkel aspires to revalidate her position as Federal Chancellor of Germany for the fourth time in a row matching the time that her mentor, Helmut Kohl, and two more than the founder of her party, Konrad Adenauer, remained in power.
In the last race, September 2013, the results were overwhelming. Merkel won 41.5% of the vote (seven points more than in 2009). In a system that rarely generates absolute majority, and with the natural ally of the chancellor -FDP- without representation after failing to reach the 5% barrier, socialists and conservatives formed the ‘grand coalition’, which had already ruled the country between 2005 and 2009.
The participation is the big question. After the improvement experienced in 20013 -73% compared to 70.8% in 2009-citizen anger will travel again to the polling stations. Or stay at home.