Reform of elections and parliament: Altmaier wants to downsize Bundestag

              Thursday, November 07, 2019

              The state elections in Thuringia miss especially the big parties to CDU and SPD a severe damper. In order to regain the confidence of the citizens, Minister of Economic Affairs Altmaier demands fundamental political reforms.
              Economics Minister Peter Altmaier has called for a reform of the political system and a greater participation of citizens in decisions. The Thuringia election was a profound turning point. "We can not wash our hands in innocence, if the proportion of voters who no longer choose a state-sponsored party, doubles, the number of parties halved and the number of MPs continues to increase," writes the CDU politician in a guest contribution for the "Rheinische Post". The big parties have to be ready for change. "It's no longer about any new chairman, chancellor candidate or minister, it's not about the umpteenth coalition compromise, it's about basic issues of trust and acceptance," said Altmaier. For this all would have to be ready for fundamental policy reforms. Concretely, he called a reduction of the Bundestag. "I think that this year we need a parliamentary reform that will lead to a significant reduction in several stages, with the number of members to be reduced by 40 seats every 4 years until a reasonable number is achieved." The number of ministers should be set at 15 and the number of secretaries of state and government officials should be reduced by one third from the next formation of the government. Bundestag and parliamentary elections would have to be more concentrated and summarized. The electoral period in the federal government must be extended to five years. In addition, the culture of debate must be reconsidered. "We need formats that allow debates outside of elections." In the run-up to legislation, online hearings should allow people to speak out. Their concerns and suggestions should be able to be brought closer to the policy in the future, in such a way that they can actually be taken into account. "Informal committees, for example the coalition committees, would have increased to such an extent that the formally responsible committees would be devalued that contributes to the disgust with the citizens, because the vast majority of decisions would be taken behind closed doors.

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