Germany: The Mixed‐Member System as a Political Compromise

Susan E. Scarrow

in Mixed-Member Electoral Systems

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780199257683
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600241 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

 Germany: The Mixed‐Member System as a Political Compromise

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Describes how the German mixed‐member electoral system arose, and shows how it developed both from interest‐based bargaining and from more widely shared concerns about political stability. Some of the features that are most characteristic of the current German arrangements—including giving citizens two ballots and the legal threshold set at 5% of the national vote—were absent in West Germany's first electoral law. These points were incorporated into the German law as the result of partisan struggles, contests whose outcomes were shaped by the shifting contours of West Germany's evolving party system. In other words, although the circumstances of total regime collapse and temporary occupation created rare opportunities to develop a political consensus for principled experimentation with new institutional designs, the German ‘model’ was as much an ad hoc creation as it was the product of theoretically inspired engineering. The different sections of the chapter are: Electoral Systems in the Federal Republic of Germany; The Origins of Germany's Mixed‐Member System; The 1949 Law—and the 1953 and 1956 laws; The German Electoral System Since 1956; and Conclusion: Accidentally Inventing a Model?

Keywords: electoral history; electoral reform; electoral systems; Federal Republic of Germany; Germany; interest‐based bargaining; mixed‐member electoral systems; party system; political stability; West Germany

Chapter.  6622 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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