The dispute lasted for years, but now there is electoral reform. But what will it do? In any case not effectiveWe have shrunk the Bundestag, which has already grown to XL format, the opposition says.

After years of fruitless debates over the downsizing of the Bundestag, the grand coalition pushed forward electoral reform against the opposition. The FDP, Left and Greens sternly rejected the CDU / CSU and SPD draft on Thursday because from their point of view it is completely unsuitable for achieving the desired downsizing of parliament, which has grown to 709 members. The coalition factions also broke with the tradition of adopting amendments to the electoral law by a large majority, if possible.

Bundestag chairman Wolfgang Schäuble and six other CDU MPs refused to approve the bill from their own ranks. Apparently out of disappointment with the regulation, which was also criticized by experts as largely ineffective, they abstained. This is evident from the roll-call vote published by the Bundestag.

Amthor emphasizes that a “fair model” has been found

The Greens’ first parliamentary director, Britta Haßelmann, said: “There will be no dampening effect.” Haßelmann spoke of “messing around”. The coalition “failed miserably,” she said. “The draft is objectively unsuitable to shrink the Bundestag. It raises constitutional questions that are completely unresolved,” said FDP domestic politician Konstantin Kuhle. The decisive lever, a reduction in the number of constituencies, is initially lacking.

In contrast, Philipp Amthor of the CDU stressed, “We have found a fair, constitutional model.” And: “We are relaxed about a constitutional review.” SPD MP Mahmut Özdemir called the law a “fair solution, because it causes the least damage, because it is effective, because it is binding, because it is understandable”.

“Bundestag will continue to grow”

The bill of the coalition parliamentary groups was passed with 362 votes in favor, 281 against and 8 abstentions. CDU / CSU and SPD together have 398 seats in the Bundestag. A joint bill from the FDP, the Greens and the Left did not find a majority, as did an AfD bill.

In the debate, left-wing politician Friedrich Straetmanns pointed out that at a hearing in the Bundestag’s Internal Commission, six of the seven experts tore the bill to pieces. “After your electoral reforms and with the numbers of all current polls, the Bundestag will continue to grow significantly to more than 800 members.”

“A saving of no less than 27 MPs”

Albrecht Glaser of the AfD said he had not yet heard “total dismantling” as stated in the hearing. The coalition had blocked any reform for three years. “And the piece by piece that is being nailed together now is not reform.”

The FDP, the Left, the Greens and the AfD could also feel confirmed by an opinion from the Bundestag’s scientific service announced on Thursday. It explains that the model of the CDU / CSU and SPD has little effect. Based on the outcome of the 2017 Bundestag election, it would have been possible to reduce the total number of seats to 682 MPs, it says. The regulation would have “saved up to 27 MPs”. The standard size of the Bundestag is 598 seats.

Major reform only for the 2025 elections

According to the coalition draft, there should be 299 constituencies for elections within a year. Overhanging mandates from a party must be partially offset against their list mandates. And if the regular variable of 598 seats is exceeded, a maximum of three overhanging mandates may not be compensated by compensating mandates.

According to the will of the coalition, a major reform, and therefore a reduction in the number of constituencies, should only take place in the 2025 elections. To this end, a reform committee consisting of scientists, parliamentarians and other members is being set up, which must present a result by 30 June 2023.

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