To What Extent Has The German Electoral

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To What Extent Has The German Electoral System Shaped Its Party System And The Development Of The Ma Essay, Research Paper ??????????? In order to answer this question, it is my intention to examine four different areas.? First of all, the electoral system used in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG); secondly, the party system and the major parties that have emerged in the FRG; thirdly, the interaction that has taken place between the electoral system and the party system; and fourthly, other factors beside the electoral system which have helped to shape the party system.? By breaking down the question in this way, it is my intention to show that, although the electoral system did have, and continues to have, a role in the shaping of the party system in the FRG, it is far

from being the most important factor. ??????????? National elections in the Federal Republic must be held at least every four years according to Article 39 of the Basic Law, and can be held more often if the government loses it majority.? In this case, the Federal President dissolves the Bundestag, and fresh elections are called, as occurred in 1972 when Brandt and the SPD lost their majority.? There are 656 seats in the Bundestag, with half of the members being elected by a direct majority vote system.? The other half are elected from lists within the L?nder which are drawn up by the parties.? These seats are distributed proportionately.? This means that at a national election, two votes are cast.? The first is for a direct representative, and the second is for a party.?

However, the vote for the party is more important, because it is the number of party votes cast which determines what percentage of the seats in the Bundestag a party may control.? The seats gained by direct election are subtracted from the number of seats won proportionately, and then the remainder of seats are allocated from the Land lists. ??????????? There are two important exceptions to this simple model which must be noted.? The first is that a party which wins more seats by the majority voting system than it would normally be allowed its proportion of the vote is allowed to keep these seats.? In this case the Bundestag is simply expanded, as occurred in 1994, with 16 seats being added to make the size of the Bundestag 672 seats.? This clause was not particularly important

until 1990, not seeing use in many elections, but since then has been a regular feature.? The second exception is the five percent clause, which prevents any party which has not polled at least five percent nationally from gaining any representation in the Bundestag.? However, this clause is swayed for parties which have managed to directly elect three or more candidates. ??????????? This, then is the electoral system that is used in the FRG.? The party system which has emerged cannot be described so briefly.? Essentially, there are four main parties in German politics, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP).? Since the CDU and CSU form one block in the Bundestag, they can

often, although not always, be considered one party, with the CDU putting up no candidates for election in Bavaria, and the CSU putting up no candidates for election outside Bavaria.? So, one is left with three groupings, CDU/CSU, SDP and FDP.? However, it must be noted that these are not equal groupings by any means.? Their inequality can be seen from election results.? In the first election in 1949, the CDU/CSU gained 141 seats, the SPD 136 seats and the FDP only 53 seats.? So the FDP has always been by far the smaller of the three main groupings. ??????????? It is interesting to note that this system gives a great deal of power to the FDP, because it is essentially they who decide which of the other parties will be able to form a government.? In the early days of the FRG, this