German President signs into law reform on limiting parl't seats to 630
The leader of the Christian Social Union says the new law would be challenged in the German Federal Constitutional Court "in the coming months."
German media reported on Thursday that German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier signed an electoral reform approved by the Bundestag that would limit the number of seats in the Parliament from 736 to 630.
Citing the president's office, the Zeit newspaper said Steinmeier signed the electoral law reform aimed at reducing the size of the Bundestag.
The Bundestag adopted the reform in mid-March in a 400-to-261 vote with 23 abstentions.
During federal parliamentary elections in Germany, each voter has two votes: one for a directly elected candidate and another for a party list. It means that each of the country's 299 electoral districts elects its own candidate directly by a simple majority vote and at least another 299 seats in parliament are going to candidates on party lists, Sputnik explained.
Under the current system, if a party wins more seats via direct vote than it gets under the party list vote, it could keep these extra seats, but other parties receive additional seats to ensure that the proportional vote is accurately reflected in the Bundestag. A party could also obtain representation in parliament if it wins at least three direct seats, even despite failing to reach the 5% threshold of the party list vote.
The reform proposes to set a constant number of lawmakers by eliminating the extra seats, meaning that not every direct electoral district winner will eventually make it to the parliament. The new legislation will also remove the so-called three-winner option, meaning that each party will need to secure 5% of the party vote to create a parliamentary group.
Alexander Dobrindt, the leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) opposition Bavarian regional faction in the Bundestag, whose party tends to win most of the direct seats in Bavaria, slammed the reform as "an act of disrespect for voters and democracy."
CSU chief Markus Soeder pointed out that the new law would be challenged in the German Federal Constitutional Court "in the coming months."
The new law is "the biggest blow" to democracy in decades, considered Jan Korte, a lawmaker of The Left Party, which fell short of 5% support during the 2021 election but won three direct seats and thus managed to establish a parliamentary group in the Bundestag.
With 736 seats, the Bundestag is now the world's second-largest parliament after the National People's Congress in China.