Electoral reform: Four percent hurdle for the Bundestag

Electoral reform: Four percent hurdle for the Bundestag

IIn the dispute over the reform of the electoral law, a compromise proposal comes from the SPD parliamentary group. The SPD MP Axel Schäfer spoke out in favor of lowering the five percent hurdle to four percent in order to avoid negative consequences of the traffic light plans, especially for CSU and to compensate leftists. The left had also spoken out in favor of such a reduction. The Left MP Gregor Gysi had brought 3 or 3.5 percent into play. CSU boss Markus Söder, on the other hand, had rejected a reduction.

The coalition out SPD, Greens and FDP had decided on an electoral law reform in order to permanently reduce the Bundestag, which had grown to 736 MPs, to 630 MPs. The so-called basic mandate clause should be dropped. So far, it has ensured that parties with the strength of their second vote result in the Bundestag also entered the Bundestag if they were less than five percent but won at least three direct mandates. The Left Party benefited from this in 2021, which had only achieved 4.9 percent of the second votes. The CSU came to 5.2 percent in 2021, but won almost all direct mandates in Bavaria. The CSU and CDU form a parliamentary group in the Bundestag.

In a two-page statement available to the German Press Agency, Schäfer suggests lowering the hurdle to four percent. The 70-year-old has been a member of the Bundestag since 2002. From 2010 to 2017 he was deputy group leader.

Schäfer writes with the electoral reform to downsize the Bundestag, the traffic light coalition had “achieved an important parliamentary success”. However, the planned abolition of the basic mandate clause “led to considerable criticism from all directions, which we must take seriously”. There is now “considerable potential for fake news and legend building as well as avoidable disputes”.

The traffic light coalition should “both resist this and tackle further reform of the electoral law and specifically discuss reducing the threshold clause to four percent”. Social Democrats “do not see the right to vote as an instrument of struggle against certain parties”. The SPD must therefore now “take legal account of the changed party landscape and take appropriate initiatives”.

Contradiction from Söder and Merz

Schäfer also referred to the situation in the European Union: “In eight EU countries there are threshold clauses below five percent and in the European Parliament less than one percent is enough to win a seat.”

CSU boss soder rejects a lowering of the five percent hurdle, as he told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. “The traffic light must take back this right to vote completely, corrections are not enough,” he emphasized. “In order to secure her majority, she fundamentally disadvantaged two out of three opposition parties. The traffic light has sinned against the political culture,” criticized the Bavarian Prime Minister.

The CDU chairman Friedrich Merz also rejected the proposal from the coalition to improve the electoral law reform and list connections from CDU and CSU to enable. “We feel it is downright encroaching that the coalition now wants to use electoral law to decide how the CDU and CSU should line up in federal elections. The proposal for a list connection is useless to solve the problem caused by the traffic light itself,” said the Union faction leader of “Welt am Sonntag”.

“CDU and CSU are two friendly but also independent parties who have decided to run in geographically different electoral areas and not to compete. It will remain so, no matter what other political parties think of it.” Merz. The CSU only competes in Bavaria, the CDU only in the other federal states.

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