8.3 German parliamentary elections 2009, participation outcomes, and proposals for the future

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 9:20 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Andranik TANGIAN , WSI, Hans-Boeckler-Foundation and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Duesseldorf, Germany
Five German leading parties and their coalitions are evaluated from the viewpoint of direct democracy. For this purpose, the positions of the parties on over 30 topical issues are compared with results of public opinion polls. The outcomes are summarized in the party indices of popularity (average percentage of population represented) and universality (percentage of issues with majority representation). The selection of issues and the information on party positions are given for the last Bundestag elections 2009.

 It is shown that the election winner 2009, the conservative CDU/CSU, has a quite low representativeness (ranked fourth), whereas the most representative is the left party die Linke which received only 11.9% votes. It is concluded that voters are not very consistent with their own political profiles, disregard party manifestos, and are likely driven by political traditions, even if outdated, or by personal images of politicians. A possible explanation is that the spectrum of the German political landscape has significantly shifted to the right, whereas voters still believe that the parties represent the same values as a few decades ago.

 Taking into account the results of the study, some modifications to the election procedure are proposed to bridge approaches of representative and direct democracy. It is suggested to introduce the third vote in the form of 'sample referenda' with voters' Yes/No opinions on several important issues from party manifestos. It meets the existing logic of the German two-vote system: the first vote for a person, the second vote for a party, and the third vote for party profiles, so that the considerations are getting to be more conceptual and less personified.