Voting rights reform: agreement on the last meters


At the last minute, the CDU parliamentary group leader Brinkhaus gave a mandate for the electoral reform. The latter rejects his idea of ​​reducing constituencies and cutting mandates. Instead, there should be the big reform.

By Kristin Schwietzer, ARD Capital Studio

In the morning it was still counted. The Union faction leader, publicly pilloried by his own people. 36 deputies had written an “evil” letter to Ralph Brinkhaus. His proposal to reform the electoral law was shattered and the judgment was destroyed. That is the “worst of all conceivable variants”, “a catastrophe”, “a perversion of the right to vote”. In short – a weakening of democracy. “And we shouldn’t raise our fingers for that as a Union group,” the letter said.

In the evening, the parliamentary group raised their fingers and gave Brinkhaus a negotiating mandate for a compromise model with the SPD. Brinkhaus renounces his proposal to reduce constituencies and cut mandates. Instead, there should now be a major reform that will reduce constituencies from 299 to 280, plus seven overhang mandates that will not be offset. And the whole thing, if possible, now and not until 2025.

The faction follows because it has to

Brinkhaus had also campaigned for this in the parliamentary group. His own suggestion only to open the door to finally end the tiresome debate and lure the CSU out of the reserve? For three hours they discussed it, more than 50 speakers, instead of scolding suddenly praise for the group leader. He had shown courage to advance the topic. Tactics worked?

At least the Union faction follows him, probably because they have to. The topic is politically charged. At the CDU and CSU, they recognized that they could go home with them in the election year. Some MPs warn of a split in the country, especially in the Corona crisis, many people are worried about their livelihood. A signal is important. If you don’t do anything, you will have big problems. It’s about acceptance by voters. In two ways. The first vote is a high good. The voter wants to see that his directly elected MP is also represented in parliament. But nobody wants a huge parliament either. More MPs, more staff, more expensive?

Opposition: Agreement comes too late

The CSU country group leader, Alexander Dobrindt, also notes this in the meeting, as participants report. “It’s about more than the next election. Dealing with our right to vote has a major impact on how our citizens feel.” They want to do that now. A late agreement, too late, says the opposition. One could hardly change anything seriously one year before the general election.

The coalition partner, the SPD, has doubts about it. Nevertheless, the Social Democrats now have the “buck” for better or worse. Now the Union is pushing the tube. You want to negotiate this week, preferably right away. Because if the Grand Coalition doesn’t agree, the hour of the opposition will come. On Friday she wants to get her own proposal through parliament, a much clearer reduction in the number of constituencies, instead of 19 even 49 fewer. There are worlds in between. The grand coalition does not need the opposition’s approval, but it is part of the good tone to change the electoral law.

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