Electoral System and Committee Assignment in the German Bundestag
26 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 20 Aug 2009
Date Written: 2009
Does the German two vote system produce two types of MPs? Although the German electoral system allows rewarding and punishing party and MPs separately, German general elections are still considered as party elections. Parties determine the candidate’s placement on lists and in which electoral district candidates are running. Successful candidates are usually nominated on lists and in electoral districts. The second vote expresses party preferences, but influences also first vote choice. Candidates of small parties hardly win district races, why only two major parties provide direct MPs. The paper argues that competition for personal votes let parties send in direct MPs to legislative committees beneficial for electoral districts. Scholars consider the committees for agriculture, traffic and construction as favoring electoral districts. Through committee assignment direct MPs engage in pork barrel politics and credit claiming within the competition for first votes. Analysis of data about all MPs from 1949 until 2005 shows that more direct MPs were assigned in constituency committees. Substantial and significant coefficients show that chances for direct MP are better to become member of constituency committees. In this respect direct MPs are salient in regard to list MPs.
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