Facts about Germany 2015 2015 - Page 34

32 | 33 THE STATE & POLITICS TOPIC BROAD PARTICIPATION The political parties are granted a major and relation to almost 62 million eligible voters privileged place in the political system of that is a share of 1.7 percent. There is also a the Federal Republic of Germany. Article 21 downward of the Basic Law states that “Political parties Whereas in the 1970s and 1980s elections shall participate in the formation of the continually saw high and extremely high political will of the people.” This goes hand turnouts, (91.1 per cent in 1972), in 2009 and in hand with an obligation to uphold inner- 2013 the elections to the Bundestag only party democracy: The chairperson, com- saw turnouts of 70.8 and 71.5 percent re- mittees, and candidates must all be elected spectively. trend in election turnout. by secret ballot of grass roots delegates at party conferences. In order to strengthen Young people often find being involved in this inner-party democracy, in the case of local citizens’ groups and non-government important decisions parties have in recent organisations more appealing. Social media times polled their members directly. The are also becoming increasingly important as SPD members’ vote on the Coalition Agree- platforms for a specific type of political articu- ment in 2013 was pivotal to the forming of lation and action. Citizens also participate dir- a joint Federal government with CDU/CSU. ectly in political issues through democratic At heart the parties are still expressions of procedures such as referendums. Over the specific strata of society, but at the same past few years, there have been more oppor- time they are losing coherence in this re- tunities for direct democracy at both federal gard. CDU/CSU and SPD together have state and municipal level, and citizens have around one million party members – in made great use of these. The voice of the people In Germany voting is on the basis of slightly modified personalised proportional representation. Every person eligible to vote has two votes. The first is for a party’s candidate in the constituency, the second for a state list of candidates put up by a particular party. The second votes are the basis of the number of seats in the Bundestag. Downward trend: turnout in Bundestag elections (%) 78.5 1949 91.1 89.1 1972 1983 77.8 77.7 71.5 1990 2005 2013 Source: Federal Statistical Office DIAGRAM