So now anyway: literally at the last minute, the grand coalition reached agreement on electoral reform. And also with the extension A breakthrough in the Corona crisis was achieved with financial help.
After a tough battle, the leaders of the CDU / CSU and SPD reached agreement, among other things, on an electoral reform and on the expansion of short-time working and corona assistance for medium-sized companies. Here’s an overview of the decisions:
- Agreement on electoral reform: further growth of the Bundestag in 2021 elections will be prevented by a damping measure
- The working time allowance will be extended until December 2021
- Corona help for medium-sized companies is being expanded
- Parents will receive more paid sick days for their children in 2020
- The relaxation in bankruptcy law will be extended
- Artists and the self-employed are more easily given basic security
- A working group is set up to reduce bureaucracy
- Funds from EU funds are used for future tasks
The compromise on the right to vote provides that further growth of the Bundestag in the 2021 elections must be prevented by a damping measure. The correct reform should not enter into force until 2025. To this end, a reform committee will be set up during this election period, the presidents of the CDU and SPD, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Norbert Walter-Borjans announced late on Tuesday evening. The number of constituencies will remain the same for the time being, Walter-Borjans explains. In the longer term, however, the Bundestag will be “considerably smaller”. The number of constituencies should be left at 299 for the 2021 federal election and then cut to 280 by 2025.
The coalition leaders were under great pressure to reach an agreement. The next Bundestag should be elected in almost exactly a year. And the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe has laid down in a code of conduct that its rules must be established about a year before an election. But the grand coalition must first approach the opposition and try to involve them as well. A large majority is usually decided on voting rights in the Bundestag.
The electoral law reform is intended to prevent the Bundestag from getting bigger again in the autumn 2021 elections. It has already reached a record level with 709 MPs. The standard format is 598 MP. Without reform, it is feared that it will grow to potentially more than 800 MPs. There is broad consensus in the Bundestag that this would affect the Parliament’s ability to operate. It would also increase costs.
Coalition partners had different concepts
The two coalition partners have joined the coalition committee with completely different concepts. The CDU / CSU model ensured that the number of constituencies would be reduced somewhat as early as possible for the upcoming federal election – from 299 to now 280. Up to seven overhanging seats should no longer be offset by offset seats. In addition, cuts should be made for the federal states and parties there on the minimum number of seats that are predetermined depending on the number of inhabitants, as this arrangement leads to further compensation mandates.
The SPD model wanted to limit the number of seats in the 2021 federal elections to 690. Overhanging mandates that go beyond may no longer be allocated. That would have hit the constituency winners with a weak first vote. You would have received a direct authorization, but not this one. It was also intended to allow only parties whose national lists alternate between a woman and a man. In a second step, the SPD then wanted to set up a commission for a fundamental reform of the electoral law.
Short-time working and help for medium-sized businesses benefit extended
The grand coalition also wants to extend the duration of the working time reduction, to mitigate the consequences of the corona crisis. Those affected can receive this benefit up to 24 months in the future, according to the decision of the coalition committee published Tuesday evening. Corona-related special rules for easier access and the amount of payments should therefore be maintained.
The extended period applies to companies that have introduced reduced working hours by December 31, 2020. The short-term allowance should be extended until December 31, 2021 at the latest. To ensure that the Federal Labor Office (BA) can bear the billions in short-time working costs, the coalition wants to ease tax money – as a grant and not as a loan.
State aid for particularly stressed companies should also be renewed. Coalition leaders agreed that bridging support would run until the end of the year.
The program is currently limited to the end of August. According to the current state of affairs, a total of 150,000 euros in fixed operating costs will be reimbursed for the months of June to August. The federal government had budgeted 25 billion euros for the subsidies. The payment of funds through the countries is slow, also because the procedure is complex – politicians want to prevent fraud cases such as with Corona emergency aid.
The bridging aid was an important part of the coalition’s economic stimulus package agreed in June. The aid applies to small and medium-sized companies from sectors such as travel, hospitality or showmen, which are still experiencing significant sales losses.
Kramp-Karrenbauer: Coalition can act
With the breakthrough in the reform of the electoral law and the extension of the working time allowance, the grand coalition has shown its capacity to act, according to Kramp-Karrenbauer. In view of the corona pandemic, many measures would be extended, Kramp-Karrenbauer said after the meeting of the party leaders. CSU boss Markus Söder spoke of a fair compromise on the right to vote.
SPD leader Saskia Esken also pointed out that 500 million euros would become available to equip teachers digitally. This should create a new educational platform. In addition, competence centers for digital training would be established. With the education offensive, schools should arrive in the 21st century.
More coming soon