More and more members of parliament: this is how expensive the bundestag is becoming

When on 26. September, the next Bundestag is elected, decides how many politicians get a seat. Although the guideline size for the delegates mandates is 598. But already at present sit with 709 delegates more in the Bundestag, than intended. No Western democracy has such a large parliament. In fact, it could grow significantly again this fall.

This increase is due to the overhang and compensation mandates. These places in the parliament are assigned, if a party wins more direct mandates with the first vote, than it is actually entitled in the relationship by the second vote.

Bundestag election: Why the Bundestag could be bigger than ever before?

There is a total of 299 direct mandates, which go almost exclusively to CDU and CSU and SPD in every election. For several years, however, the mainstream parties have been achieving results in the second votes that are increasingly far removed from the distribution of the first votes. In the Bundestag, all other parties benefit from this, since the seat ratio – which results from the second votes – with the so-called Compensatory mandates must be restored.

The greater the difference between constituencies won and second vote results, the larger the Bundestag will be, because it will need more compensatory mandates. If, as current polls show, the CDU/CSU and SPD only achieve vote shares of just over 20 percent in the Bundestag election, the Discrepancy to the direct mandates once again higher than in the last Bundestag election. This development is also based on the fact that more and more constituents are distribute two votes among different parties. The end result could be that the number of deputies exceeds the mark of 800 seats Clearly cracks in September.

Bundestag becomes ever larger – in the worst case 1000 delegates

According to the current status, even up to 840 mandates would be very likely. Calculations of the electoral law expert Robert Vehrkamp According to the Bertelsmann Foundation, if things go really badly, the parliament could even grow to more than 1,000 members.

If the Bundestag were to grow to more than 800 seats this fall, this would also have significant Consequences for taxpayersThe Bund der Steuerzahler (Taxpayers' Association) has repeatedly called for reform, also for cost reasons. Already this year, the parliament with expenditures of more than one billion euros more expensive than ever before. The exorbitant costs cause however not the delegates alone.

Included in this total are the costs for the Bundestag administration – This includes, among other things, personnel expenses for civil servants, maintenance of real estate, material expenses, investments and the visitors' service. However, a large share of the parliament's total costs is accounted for primarily by the "Active mandate-related" costs not the deputies themselves.

This is how much the members of the Bundestag earn

All parliamentarians receive an allowance of one billion euros under the MP Act monthly expense allowance (§11) from 9.780,28 Euro plus a tax-free lump sum for expenses (§12 Abs. 2) of 4.418.09 euros per month. For 2019, the federal government is budgeting funds of around 81.1 million for this purpose, as well as 36.8 million euros, which will thus flow directly to the members of parliament.

However, there are other costs in addition to the parliamentary allowances – after all, each of them has employees or undertakes business trips. These "active mandate-related" items, such as the Flat-rate employee allowance or allowances for illness and care, as well as business trips, add up tidily. In approximate terms, these items last cost 533 million euros a year, which means that each individual mandate would generate more than 750.000 euros of direct expenditures.

Bundestag would become considerably more expensive even with 800 deputies

Already in 2019, the federal budget has therefore budgeted approximately 913.4 million euros for the parliament. Of this, the compensation for members of parliament, including the lump-sum expense allowance, accounted for just under 13 percent. At 253.7 million euros, the costs for the employment of staff been by far the largest chunk (27.8 percent).

The Taxpayers' Association has now presented a cost projection in the event that 800 mandate holders will sit in the Bundestag in the future: Alone the "active mandate-related" costs would then amount to 597 million euros per year. That would mean an increase of 64 million. Expenditures for the parliament would then in all likelihood be well above the billion mark. The Taxpayers' Association therefore warns against a "XXL Bundestag" – also because trust in the political institution is thus lost.

Reform for federal elections: This is why it failed

The last efforts for a large Electoral law reform have failed due to different interests of the rather small parties and the Union as well as SPD 2020. It was not possible to agree on an effective reform in the current legislative period. Above all CSU resisted a new regulation, since a reduction of the 299 constituencies would have hit them especially hard. So far, the CSU has won all the direct mandates in Bavaria.

Also CDU resisted, because at the time of the vote in the polls she still came to well over 30 percent. A large number of Compensation mandates would not have come about in this way, as the CDU has also won many mandates directly so far. At the moment, however, the CDU/CSU is a good ten percentage points down in the polls compared with its previous ratings. Meanwhile, the SPD and the Greens could also be entitled to compensatory mandates.

The parties were ultimately only able to agree on a mini-reform: Three Overhang mandates should not be compensated. In addition, a commission is supposed to work on the ie, but so far it has been formed and has not yet deliberated. More incisive should be the right to vote for the Bundestag election after next – which takes place regularly in 2025 – change. Then the number of constituencies should at least be reduced from 299 to 280.

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