Bundestag president Schäuble calls for parliamentary reform

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President of the Bundestag Schäuble has again called for a reduction in the number of MPs in the Bundestag. According to him, not only must there be fewer direct mandates, but also fewer constituencies.

“We can’t risk having 800 MPs or more in the next Bundestag,” Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble stressed in a recent ARD interview. That is why, according to him, the electoral law required urgent reform – before the spring of 2020, when the first candidates for the next Bundestag elections will be nominated.

In order to do this, it would on the one hand be necessary to reduce the number of direct mandates, Schäuble said. However, many CDU/CSU members are opposed to this, as CDU and CSU won most of these mandates in past elections.

In return, the other parties would have to be prepared to make concessions hwne it comes to the distribution of parliamentary seats via party list. Schäuble did not explain exactly what this meant.

It would also be important to reduce the number of constituencies, Schäuble insisted. “It won’t be easy,” he explained. Because: “The fact that we vote in the current constituencies has a high acceptance among the population. But: “We cannot do this without a reduction in the number of constituencies. We must act quickly on this, because the constituencies will have to be reallocated.”

According to the Bundestag president, all political groups should be prepared to make certain concessions and seek consensus. “Now there are no excuses. Now we have to sit down (…) and then the problem can also be solved.” A reform of the electoral law would “strengthen the reputation of our parliamentary work”, Schäuble was convinced.

A controversial path

At the moment there are 709 MPs in the German Bundestag – only the People’s Congress in China is bigger. Actually the regular number of delegates is 598 delegates, but due to numerous overhang and balancing mandates the number tends to be significanty higher.

In order to prevent the further inflation of the parliament in the next Bundestag election, presumably in September 2021, there is agreement among all parties to reduce the number of seats through electoral reform . But how to get there remains controversial.

In April, a cross-party working group led by Schäuble, which had been looking for a joint solution, had come to no results.

Only 250 instead of 299 constituencies?

The FDP, the Left and the Greens then proposed that there should be only 250 constituencies instead of the current 299, which would reduce the number of direct mandates. At the same time, they want to increase the standard number of parliamentary seats from 598 to 630. The combination of the two measures is intended to reduce the likelihood of overhang mandates.

However, the majority of CDU/CSU and SPD voted against the bill of the three opposition parties in the first reading.

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