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German Parliamentary Elections 2009 from the viewpoint of direct democracy

Andranik Melik-Tangyan (Tangian)
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Institute of Economic Theory (ECON)
Andranik Melik-Tangyan (Tangian)
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Institute of Economic Theory (ECON)
Open Panel

Abstract

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 the results of polls of public opinion. The outcomes are summarized in the indices of popularity and universality of the parties. The selection of policy issues and the information on the party positions are given as in the Wahl-O-Mat(2010) for the last Bundestag (German parliamentary) elections 2009. It is shown that the Bundestag election winner 2009-the conservative party CDU/CSU with 33.8% votes-has a quite low representative capacity (fourth among the five leading parties), whereas the most representative is the left party Linke which received only 11.9% votes. As for possible coalitions, the most representative would consist of the Linke and the ecologists Grünen, who received together 22.6% votes and could not make a govern- ment. The analysis of Bundestag elections 2009 shows that the voters are little 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with their own political profiles, disregard party manifestos, and are likely driven by political traditions, even if outdated, or by personal images of politicians.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. The insufficient focus on the changing party profiles results in a discrepancy between electorate and elected government. In case of Germany it manifests itself in the unprecedent violent response of population to some rather usual events like starting the construction of a new main station in Stuttgart (''Stuttgart-21''), or transporting atomic waste (''Castor Transport''). 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.