The German "Supreme Court", the Federal Constitutional Court ("FCC"), did label Germany's federal election law as 'unconstitutional' lately. Well, it was no surprise because the complicated two-tier system with "first pass pole" ("first vote") and decisive proportional distribution ("second vote") has been overburdened more and more by "so-called" overlapping mandates since reunification, with six additional seats (1990), 16 (1994), 13 (1998), 5 (2002), 16 (2005) and whopping 24 (2009).
Before 1990, the few extra mandates for the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, were not relevant. But, with more than 4 parties present in parliament, currently six - CDU, CSU, FDP, SPD, Eco-Greens and the Leftists - the relevance of this imbalance became significant.
What's behind this problem? Well, simply told.
The "first pass pole" vote determines the fate of 50 percent of Germany's Bundestag MoPs in 299 electoral districts ("direct mandates"); the other 299 seats will be taken from 16 different electoral state lists in which a party ranks its candidates ("list mandates") in the respective federal state.
The election system is strictly proportional with two exceptions:
#1 A party can only have representatives if at least five per cent of the valid "second votes" are garnered, the so-called '5 % hurdle'.
#2 This 5 % obstacle will be ignored if a party wins at least three "direct mandates". With 4 pc of the second votes and 3 direct mandates, such a party might have up to 24 seats in parliament.
This #2 issue happened once for the former SED/PDS succeessor party "The Leftist(s)" in October 1994, with only 4.4 % of the votes, they got 30 seats in parliament because they won more than 3 seats directly.
Sounds simple, huh?
But Germans tend to make simple things complicated.
With this "mixture" of first and second vote, the voters hand out mixed messages in return. About 20-30 per cent (estimate) of them split their votes at the ballot - voting for candidate A of party X with the "first pass pole" vote and giving the "second vote" for party Y.
Free-Democrats and Eco-Greens are generally beneficiaries of this vote splitting pattern. Conservative voters tend to support the Free-Democrats whereas the Social-Democratic ones often support the Greens - seen as rule of thumb, of course.
The weird and thus unconstitutional-deemed issue is that a party may win more direct mandates by first votes than by proportional allocation in application of the second vote result.
If this is the case, the mandates won directly stay as "overlapping mandates" and will be added as extra seats.
In 2009, the conservative union of CDU/CSU won 24 seats more than calculated by the second vote result, meaning that the Bundestag was extended to 622 seats (598 + 24).
The left-of-center opposition cried foul and went to the "FCC" in order to get the law disqualified for future elections.
Yes, indeed, such an imbalance was deemed unconstitutional, and the court ordered a new and revised federal election law for the fall 2013 national elections. Nothing has happened in the legislative process so far. If elections were held next month they would be unconstitutional as well.
OK, the Eco-Greens want a "golden-rim solution". What does this mean?
Simply spoken that "overlapping mandates" should be addressed with so-called "compensatory mandates". Well, it means that the Bundestag of 598 +24 = 622 should have been extended by additional 43(!) seats by compensation. Why? You may ask.
With 33.8 pc of the votes and 24 extra seats for the Conservatives you need 43 new seats for the other parties to get even.
The Bundestag would have blown up to 665 members, and 67 new members mean 11 per cent more expenses for representatives. The German taxpayers pay currently 57.23 million euros annually for the 622 Bundestag MoPs - with 43 more representatives ("The Greens' Proposal), the costs would increase to 61.19 million euros (= plus 3.96 million euros).
What the "deep" thinking is behind of this so-called "basis-democracy" attitude? "Meritocracy = reward for buddies" of course, what else.
With a re-calibration of 43 compensatory seats, the Eco-Greens would have gotten 8 extra seats.
Isn't it a neat idea to additionally make 8 party-comrades happy with monthly salaries of 11.536 euros at taxpayers' expense.
Well the math for the other parties would have been:
SPD = +17 extra seats
FDP = +10 , Leftists = +8
This waste of millions of taxpayers' money should be stopped. Now is the right time to make constitutional decisions with an austerity approach. Don't preach water towards the Greeks and drink champagne when German waste of money is addressed.
Instead of making a "golden rim solution", make the "common sense approach".
The election procedure can be simplified with one stroke of a pen, abolish the "first past pole" vote, and keep the 5 % obstacle.
And, are 598 mandates (representatives) for a population of 81 million people really necessary? Think again!
U.S. Congress has 435 representatives for more than 320 million (plus) people.
But, the German Eco-Greens' rather like the never-ending taxpayers' grab-bag "golden-rim, first class solution".
A penny saved is a penny earned, they often pretend - but, of course, not, if my party-buddies are concerned.