University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Military government weekly information bulletin
No. 42 (May 1946)

[Highlights of policy],   pp. 5-10 PDF (2.6 MB)

Page 5

Germany Takes Another Step
luwIwllIU    IlIL ULIVIUUIIfIIU       I II   LUU
,,~~~~~~~~~~~~~. ...._.
Hans Schmidt now begins, in 'earnest to
take over his own government. Last Jan-
uary he went to the polls for the first
time in twelve years and elected Ge-
meinde (community) councilmen in some
10,000 communities of less th-an 20,000 pop-
ulation. Three and a half months later, on
28 April 1946, he went again and cast his
ballot for Landkreis (rural county) coun-
cilmen in all 209 of the Landkreise in
the Zone. The election policy was estab-
lished in the Potsdam Declaration, which
called for "restoration of democratically
'elected legistative bodies in Germany be-
ginning iat local leviels." The Landkreis
councils were chosen under laws drafted
by each Land and approved by MG. The
councils range in size from  fifteen to
forty-five members, depending upon pop-
ulatio,n, and the members will serve a
term of two years
Suffrage requirements were the same
as in the Gemeinde elections. The Land-
kreis councils were elected by a system
of pr oportional represen'tation wher'eby
each party 'or group receives a, number of
setats proportional to the vote cast for
that party 'or group. The details of pro-
portionial representation vary somewhat
from Laond to Land. Wuerttemberg, for
'example allows the individual voter much
more choice in the candidates for whom
he casts his ballot than do the other
In addition to the Landkreis councils,
Gemeinde councils were elected in seven-
teen Geireinde- - five in Wfirttemberg
and twelve in Greater Hesse. This was
because certain Gemeinde elections were
not held in January. The MG directive
,of 23 November 1945 had provided that
Gemleinden with more than 20,000 inhab-
itants but with were not Stadtkreise
should not elect in January. There were
,eight such Gemeinden represented in the
April elections plus nine smaller Ge-
meinde~n where the January 'elections had
to be repeated.
Apart from the eight Gemeinden with
more than 20,000 population, the same
voters were concerned with the April
el'ectiolns as. which th'e January elections.
In other words, both involved a. predom-
inantly rural and small town electorate.
Because of the sameness of the partici-
puants, comparisons between the two polls
are of interest.
The first fact which stands out is that
the Landkreis elections. Th'e number of
registered vioters increased from 4,662,678
-in January to' 5,111,736 in April, but the
numbler of actual voters decreased from
4,012,980 to 3,641,973. Stated in terms
lof percentages, there was 86 percent part-
icipation in Jalnuary but only 71 percent
in April. This is nlot surprising. The home
Gemeinde is closer to the affections of
the average voter than is th'e rural county in
which he resides. Moreover, in Wuerttem-
b'erg, rural ciounty councils had never be-
for'e been directly elected by the people,
so that th'e process itself was new. Fur-
thlermore, th'e April polling came so soon

Go up to Top of Page