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United States. Office of the US High Commissioner for Germany / A program to foster citizen participation in government and politics in Germany

6. Political parties and election systems,   pp. [19]-21 PDF (2.1 MB)

Page [19]

officials, outstanding police agencies and accom-
plishments, the role of the new democratic police,
safety campaigns, etc., in order to promote better
police-public relations. (See C. above for additional
IPG will furnish general material and sugges-
tions. The Land Offices may do the same for the
Land, and may apply the IPG suggestions to Land
conditions. Primarily, however, the material must
be used locally to have full effect, and while some
can be made available through ISD, much of it
must be developed by the Resident Officers in
terms of local conditions and personalities.
The same approach holds for radio. In addition,
the presidents of the four regional Associations of
Chiefs of Police will spend about five minutes per
week on the air.
(8) Film
Two twelve-minute films will be produced.
"The German Police" will show the origin of the
German police, the German police between 1933
and 1945, and the present police organization and
practice, and compare the basic faults of the old
system with the protections provided in the pres-
ent organization. Care will be taken that it does
not arouse nostalgia.
"Progress of the German Police". This will show
outstanding changes of police methods or practices
(which resulted from the visit of German police
leaders to the U.S.). Several of the points to be
covered are listed in C. above.
The German political party and election systems
have distinctive authoritarian aspects.
A very small percentage of the voters are party
members. Party interest, except during campaigns,
is limited to th6 party group. Top party commit-
tees and functionaries appear successfully to de-
termine party policy without much reference to the
views of the rank and file or to public opinion.
Positions on vital questions seem to be determined
by party ideology and strategy rather than public
interests. In the more highlyc-en.qiqradleparties
local policy and action als&trequire-approval of the
high command, so that local-Initiative is paralyzed
and local problems neglectod.
Conflicting regional or group interests ought to
be represented in legislatures by the members
elected by these interests, but the caucus system
(Fraktionszwang) prevents this, and laws in effect
are voted, not by individual legislators represent-
ing their constituents, but by party blocs acting on
decisions taken in caucus before public debate. In
many instances even the caucus decision is dictated
by the leaders. Control of government policy and
administration by party leader-ministers is in-
herent in any parliamentary system, but under the
conditions cited, it seems in Germany to have
developed to an extreme degree.
The result is that the German people have no
real representation in government through thepolic
tical parties and generally cannot affect govern-
mental policy or action on any given issue. No
party offers the German people an opportunity for
active participation in political life.
The election systems widen this separation be-
tween the parties and the people. Under the list
system of proportional representation, the German
voter has a choice only between party tickets, the
nominees are chosen by the party leaders, and those
elected to office are their candidates and respon-
sible to them rather than to the voters. Even those
elected directly by plurality vote still render prim-
ary allegiance to the party organization and not to
their constituents.
Extreme party discipline maintains this system.
Material dissent from party policy results in ex-
pulsion, which in Germany is often a complete
barrier to participation in public life, because with
Jfew exceptions there is no place in public life for
the independent.
The German voter is frustrated by this system.
Accordingly, he suffers from a lack of political ex-
perience and has no opportunity to make a real-
istic approach to politics. Politrcal and social ideol-
ogy-socialism, free enterprise, religion, national-
ism-are offered by the parties as a substitute for
practical programs dealing with current problems.
The voter must take one of these; he is given no
other choice. In default of other experience many
voters suppose that these ideologies present real-
istic and practical issues. Since they involve prin-
ciples, they cannot be compromised and therefore
compromise or adjustment with the opposition to
reach practical solutions is impossible.
Intellectual intolerance is too often a component
part of political opinion. This inability to modify
or compromise leads to the rejection or secession
of minorities and the multiplication of splinter
The party system and politics have no appeal for
German youth, who feel instinctively that the
present programs and organizations are obsolete.
They are certain to seek a substitute and it is vital
that this substitute be democratic in character.
To support those Germans who seek to improve
the German political system so as to establish in
(1) Representatives elected to legislative bodies
and elected public officials are chosen to serve their
constituents, and owe their primary loyalty to the
constituents and not to the party organization
\ which nominated them.
(2) The more general adoption of a system of
direct plurality election from single member dis-
Q tricts in place of the list system of proportional
(3) Development of political realism  and toler-
3ance in the parties and a sense of responsibility
Lto and relationship with the public.
(4) Development of a democratic political system
Svhich will attract the participation of the German
Little progress e-n be =ortp' d. fourrd thcziz ob-
jecti         in the field of ef
tV        gatoa    o   ffki_ l, adl  neir constit-
ubstantial improvement has been made in the
election systems. Until 1919 election by plurality
was traditional in Germany. Under the Weimar
Republic a change was made to proportional re-
presentation and a party list system on a national

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