• Germany's news in English

Court: new election law needed pronto

The Local · 25 Jul 2012, 11:37

Published: 25 Jul 2012 11:37 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“Despite a generous, three-year deadline for the election lawmakers to set out a new regulation, the result – and that is the agreed opinion of the court – is sobering,” said Constitutional Court President Andreas Voßkuhle.

“Considering the history of the new election law, the court sees no possibility of again accepting the anti-constitutional position for an interim period,” he continued, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Wednesday.

The rules - passed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government despite disagreement from the opposition parties - concern the sharing out of parliamentary seats between parties.

Currently the system of awarding “overhang seats” favours larger parties in the mixed election system. People have two votes – one for their regional constituency candidate, and one for a party.

The parties are awarded parliamentary seats according to how many party votes they get. If a party is entitled to more seats than the number it won directly, the remaining number are filled from the party candidate list.

But if a party wins more directly elected constituency seats than it is entitled to from its party votes, it gets them all, and the additional ones are called “overhang seats” and are considered unfair.

Currently there are around 15 such seats, which is far too many, Voßkuhle said. They should not be completely banned, but they should not become so many that they “alter the basic character of the federal election as a representative election,” he said.

Such distribution of seats, “contravenes in several ways, the basic law of equality before election law, and the right of political parties to equal chances,” he said.

The court demanded changes to the election laws back in 2008, and gave lawmakers until July 2011 to present a proposal. The government did put a new law together, and passed it last December, but it was immediately challenged by opposition parties and more than 3,000 citizens - putting it back into the hands of the crimson-clad Constitutional Court judges.

Story continues below…

Parliament will now have to work out a new reform and pass it quickly. The constitutionally defined latest date for the next federal election is 27 October 2013.

DPA/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:17 July 25, 2012 by Floriansamsel
Either all the legal advisers of this government are nuts or they breach the constitution wilfully.
Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd