Suffrage reform announced: Bas wants a smaller Bundestag

Status: 10/30/2021 11:04 a.m.

The Bundestag is bursting at the seams, but efforts to downsize it did not have a resounding success in the last electoral term. Bundestag President Bas now wants to start a new attempt.

The new President of the Bundestag Bärbel Bas wants to tackle electoral reform after the formation of the government. In the last legislative period, attempts to downsize the Bundestag had largely failed. “I feel in the parliamentary groups, including in the Union, the insight and the serious will that the parliament cannot grow any further in the future,” said the SPD politician of the “Rheinische Post”. “I would like to spare myself and the country an image that MPs and employees have to work in a container landscape on the Reichstag meadow,” argued Wolfgang Schäuble’s successor.

First, Bas would like to wait for the results of the coalition negotiations. “Then I would invite the parliamentary groups for talks shortly after the formation of the government.” The reinstatement of the electoral law commission is also an option.

Record size by choice in September

After the election, the Bundestag had grown to the previous record number of 736 members. According to the federal electoral law, his target size is 598 members. If a party receives more direct mandates than it is entitled to according to its second vote result, the competition receives compensation mandates, so that the total number increases. In the last electoral term, 709 parliamentarians belonged to the Bundestag.

View of the plenary session at the constituent session of the new Bundestag.

Bild: picture alliance/dpa

The Greens, the FDP and the SPD had presented reform proposals in the last electoral term, which failed mainly because of the resistance of the Union. Ultimately, it was only agreed to forego the settlement of up to three overhang mandates. “Basically, all ideas are ready on the table. Now it is time to decide,” said Bas. However, she did not want to commit to a future size. With a view to the target size of 598 mandates, she said: “I do not take the position that we absolutely have to reduce the Bundestag to this size.”

Bas also supports proposals by the traffic light parties SPD, Greens and FDP to reduce the minimum age in the federal elections from 18 to 16 years. If one wanted to keep the voter turnout high, one had to ensure that as many first-time voters as possible were mobilized.

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