This introduction connects some of the main themes covered in this special issue on Chancellor Merkel’s second coalition cabinet, which was formed in October 2009 and ended with the electoral collapse of the FDP in the Bundestag election of September 2013. It starts by setting out an interesting ‘puzzle’: The parties forming the coalition of 2009-2013 (CDU, CSU and FDP) had expressed a strong preference for this coalition in the run-up to the election of 2009. Despite their seeming agreement in many policy areas, the coalition formed in 2009 faced tough negotiations and conflicts between the parties from the beginning. The economic crisis the preceding government faced between 2005 and 2009 and unforeseen events during the course of the CDU/CSU-FDP coalition 2009-2013 (e.g., the Euro crisis and the Fukushima environmental disaster) had altered the policy agenda in important ways and rendered the former ‘Christian-Liberal reform project obsolete.
Black, Asian and minority-ethnic (BAME) citizens are under-represented in the House of Commons. Nevertheless, the Chamber's ethnic composition has become more reflective of the general population as a result of the 2005 and 2010 parliamentary elections. The paper seeks to map and explain variations in the extent to which BAME Members of Parliament (MPs) use the Chamber to articulate issues relevant to minority constituents. We compare the content of all parliamentary questions for written answer asked by BAME MPs between May 2005 and December 2011 to the questions asked by a matching sample of non-minority legislators. We find that BAME MPs ask more questions relating to the problems and rights of ethnic minorities in, and immigration to, the UK. However, we also find that all British MPs are responsive to the interests of minority constituents where these are geographically concentrated. Building on theoretical predictions derived from (a) models focusing on MPs’ political socialisation and (b) on the electoral incentives they are facing, we discover that the MPs in our sample respond systematically to electoral incentives, especially in the politically salient area of immigration policy. While these findings are in line with an ’electoral-incentives model’, whereas a ‘socialisation model’ is better suited to explain the larger number of questions on the interests of ethnic minorities asked by Labour MPs.
Does the growing descriptive representation of minority-ethnic legislators in the British House of Commons have any implications for the substantive representation of minority-related issues in the UK Parliament? This study is based on a data set of over 16,000 parliamentary questions tabled by 50 British backbench Members of Parliament (MPs) in the 2005-2010 Parliament, including the 16 immigrant-origin MPs with a ‘visible-minority’ background. Based on a series of multivariate models, it is found that all British MPs sampled for this study – irrespective of their ethnic status – respond to electoral incentives arising from the socio-demographic composition of their constituencies: Minority and non-minority MPs alike ask more questions relating to minority concerns, if they represent constituencies with a high share of non-White residents. Controlling for that general effect, however, MPs with a visible-minority status do tend to ask significantly more questions about ethnic diversity and equality issues.
This contribution examines how links between citizens and Members of the Bundestag have evolved since 1949. The focus will be on institutional incentives relating to the electoral system and the rules of procedure in the Bundestag. In addition, new incentives arising from technological developments (especially internet and Web 2.0 applications) will be explored in their effect on individual parliamentary behaviour vis-a-vis citizens and in the Bundestag’s ‘corporate’ links (i.e., links not based on electoral incentives in the constituencies and the chamber) with citizens. In particular, the development of petitions and electronic petitions will be assessed. While the evidence presented suggests that Bundestag Members have enhanced communication with citizens, this has not halted the decline in popular support for the House. In line with other advanced liberal democracies, trust in parliament is declining as a result of a more critical, less deferential citizenry.
Im Jahr 2011 hatten die britischen Wählerinnen und Wähler die Möglichkeit, in einem Referendum das einfache Mehrheitswahlsystem in Einerwahlkreisen durch das Alternative Vote zu ersetzen. Zwei Drittel der Wähler entschieden sich für die Beibehaltung des Status Quo. Trotz des daraus erwachsenden Eindrucks hoher Stabilität im Kernbereich des gesamtstaatlichen Wahlsystems hat sich das britische Wahlsystem im Kontext der Devolution politischer Kompetenzen an Regionalversammlungen in Schottland, Wales, Nordirland und Groß-London (1998) stark verändert. In allen neu geschaffenen Versammlungen wurden personalisierte Verhältniswahlsysteme mit starker Wahlkreiskomponente eingeführt. Das erste Kabinett Cameron (seit 2010) beschloss darüber hinaus wichtige Innovationen wie die Abschaffung des effektiven unilateralen Parlamentsauflösungsrechts des Premierministers oder die Einführung der Abwahlmöglichkeit amtierender Abgeordneter bei schweren Verstößen gegen bestehende Gesetze und Verhaltenskodices. Es wird gezeigt, dass die Stabilität des Wahlsystems im Kernbereich hochgradig mit Erwartungen von Rational-Choice-Ansätzen zur Erklärung von Wahlsystemreformen vereinbar ist. Die Reformen des Wahlsystems im weiteren Sinne dagegen können am besten durch einen interaktiven Ansatz erklärt werden, wobei ein exogener Schock ein Gelegenheitsfenster öffnete, das neue Akteure zuließ und die Themenagenda zur Wahlrechtsreform veränderte.