Dienstag, 25. Juni 2013
In Germany, the question of whether all parties
have cleared the “five-
percent hurdle” is part of every election evening. But what is meant by this?
This stipulation means that political parties can be represented by their delegates in a parliament only if they have received at least five percent of all votes in an election. It is a compromise agreed upon between proponents of the first-
post electoral system
and those who are in favour of the system of proportional representation. The advocates of such a stipulation (they were the ones that also wanted the first-
post electoral system) argued that clear and reliable majorities
had to be achieved in parliament; if every party, however small, was represented in parliament, they said, it could endanger a government’s capacity to govern and greatly shorten its lifespan. Those in favour of proportional representation maintained that all votes had to be of equal worth in the name of fairness. The five-
percent hurdle, they said, meant that small parties were heavily discriminated
against, as the large parties would always clear it. But the supporters of the hurdle won the day: the experiences of Weimar democracy
had left their mark. And that which had been predicted came to pass – the small parties soon disappeared from the German Bundestag
. From 1957 to 1983, only CDU/CSU, SPD and FDP were represented in the Bundestag; in 1983, the Greens reached more than five percent of votes for the first time.
In the plenary assembly hall of the German Bundestag, the members of parliament meet for discussions, debates and votes.