Old Weimar Meets New Political Economy: Democratic Representation in the Party State

German Law Journal, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp. 237-258 (2012)

22 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2020

See all articles by Emanuel V. Towfigh

Emanuel V. Towfigh

EBS Law School; Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

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Date Written: March 1, 2012


One of the prominent questions surrounding Weimar Theory of the State was that of the significance and influence of the political parties within the state. From the perspective of constitutional law, parties were as undesirable as they were an “inescapable” fact of modern statehood. They appeared to be an absolutely necessary consequence of the emancipation of all classes and social strata: Legitimation of state rule was no longer conceivable merely as a natural rule from above; on the other hand, there was no longer a unified bourgeoisie, and it thus seemed impossible for the political whole to be represented by people who felt beholden exclusively to the common weal. The homogeneous “people” had become a heterogeneous “mass.” The parties seemed to be a necessity, on the one hand, for active citizens to articulate themselves in the political system and, on the other hand, for state unity not to be torn apart by the power of a plurality of interests leaning in many different directions. Parties could therefore be conceived of as a prerequisite for state organisation: The idea of the “party state” was born. One important protagonist in the discussion on the status of parties within the state structure was the constitutional legal scholar Gerhard Leibholz (1901–1982). In Weimar times, he was the most prominent representative of party state theory (Parteienstaatslehre), and as someone who “had somehow fallen between the eras,” he also actively shaped the party state of the Bonn Republic for over twenty years (1951–1971), as a judge at the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht), by significantly influencing legislation on parliamentary, party, and electoral law. His persona was therefore a particularly important bridging link between the Weimar Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany, and even today, his theses are highly topical: “Beyond all eras, Gerhard Leibholz stands for the great tradition of German constitutional theory.”

Keywords: Constitutional Law, Demokratie, Demokratietheorie, German Law Journal, GLJ, Law & Economics, Legal History, Public Choice, Rational Choice, Rechtsvergleichung, Rechtsökonomik, Social Choice, Verfassungsrecht, Ökonomik

Suggested Citation

Towfigh, Emanuel V., Old Weimar Meets New Political Economy: Democratic Representation in the Party State (March 1, 2012). German Law Journal, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp. 237-258 (2012), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3688167

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