L’opposition au Bundestag allemand entre négociation et rhétorique

Faculty/Professorship: Comparative Politics  
Author(s): Saalfeld, Thomas  
Title of the compilation: L’opposition parlementaire
Editors: Rozenberg, Olivier; Thiers, Eric
Corporate Body: La Documentation Française
Publisher Information: Paris
Year of publication: 2013
Pages: 153-171
ISBN: 330-3-331-95378-4
Series ; Volume: Les études de la Documentation française ; 5378-79
Language(s): French
In Dahl’s (1967) terminology, Germany’s opposition has become more competitive since the Greens gained representation in the Bundestag in 1983. It was only then that the opportunities arising from the Federal Republic’s parliamentary reforms starting in the late 1960s were actually utilised. The increasing fragmentation of the party system left of the political centre led to more competition amongst centre-left and left-wing parties and a larger ideological range in the party system overall. This tendency was further enhanced by the fact that the Greens (during the 1980s) and the PDS/Die Linke since 1990 were at least initially treated as outsiders by the established parties. As such, they were not included in the relatively co-operative negotiations typical of Germany’s government-opposition relations. Their only chance to make a mark was to do so by seeking publicity in the chamber and media.
In addition to behavioural changes, the main institutional sources of opposition strength in the German Bundestag are, firstly, organisational: The parliamentary parties receive relatively generous resources to support their work; their internal organisation is highly diversified, and policy expertise is rewarded through the distribution of leadership positions; and the parliamentary parties’ working groups are closely linked with the standing committees of the Bundestag. Secondly, the opposition’s strength in the German Bundestag is derived from parliament’s external environment. In particular, the importance of the Bundesrat and the usual incongruence of Bundestag and Bundesrat majorities force the government to negotiate with the opposition, or with federal states governed by the opposition. Similarly, the opposition has direct access to the Federal Constitutional Court to challenge government legislation. These external factors, in particular, have been simultaneously problematic, however. They have contributed to reform gridlock on the one hand and (due to the obvious discrepancy between adversarial rhetoric in the chamber and co-operative policy making in practice) and may also have exacerbated public cynicism about parliament on the other.
Keywords: Opposition, Deutscher Bundestag, Parlamentarismus, parliamentary opposition in Germany
Type: Contribution to an Articlecollection
URI: https://fis.uni-bamberg.de/handle/uniba/1922
Year of publication: 15. October 2013