A commonplace of german politics

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You have two votes

9 April, 2010 (16:32) | elections, proposals | By: Aerar

(German version published on 13 January, 2010)

Das Wahlrecht zum Deutschen Bundestag muss laut Bundesverfassungsgericht geändert werden. (my translation: The electoral law for the German Bundestag needs to be changed as the Federal Constitutional Court said” (German)“, states the blog “rot steht uns gut” and already makes a proposal how that could be done. The problems that might occur are named by the author himself and therefore he makes an alternative proposal (German), which in my opinion is not good either and which is impracticable. But it is good to formulate thoughts at all.

I once have made some simply thoughts myself about the importance of the first vote and asked myself what the voters are voting for.
I think voters vote for points of view. This might be distinct points such as plans to lower taxes or simply directions which indicate how the voter will be represented in new currently not concretely stated questions. In addition often the intention of a decision in a concrete question is important.

In my opinion it is the current state that party reason is leading the decisions of the single delegates. This could be called for by the party directly or indirectly. So for me it is a basic question whether the delegates or the parties make the decisions. I consider in fact it are the parties.

Splitting the vote into a first vote and a second vote is a split into the election of persons and of parties. So the question is whether to accept the status quo (“the parties decide”) or to strenghten the position of the delegates. Because of the confusion the split arouses among many electors I would prefer the removal of one of the two kinds of votes.

Above that I think the first vote is badly implemented as the voting for local delegates often is dissatisfactory (”But then I would like to have the choice between all german politicians and not alone those who by chance happen to live in my district.“). How that could be reflected on the ballot papers will stay an open question. If these should not become metres long a solution might be a code number on a (long) list which could be written onto the short ballot.

Always I am no friend of faction constraint and therefore would prefer to elect politicians directly. But in the praxis I consider this to be dangerous, as it is already difficult to know the positions of the parties. Knowing the exact convictions of each politician is nearly impossible. But that would undermine one of the basic principles of election, which is that the voter makes an intentional decision.

So my proposal is:

The first vote will be disposed. The parties publish their lists beforehand and those lists also are hung out in the polling stations. The voters only vote for parties. All delegates will be elected by the party lists published by the parties. The rights of the delegates and their duty for the people remain.

This proposal in my opinion has as the drawback that it additinally weakens the power of the delegates compared to their parties. But this could be compensated at other places (e.g. by having more (secret!) ballots). The election process gets easier by this mode and those cases where voters accidentally put their vote wrongly will be reduced.