Lawsuit against EU blocking clause: “It’s about more mandates for the big parties”

Martin Sonneborn, head of the satirical party “Die Party”, thinks his chances against the introduction of a two percent clause in the European elections are good. “I am cautiously optimistic about our urgent application in Karlsruhe,” said Sonneborn of the “Augsburger Allgemeine” (Saturday edition) and added: “If the CDU, SPD and Greens prevail with a blocking clause, three million votes will fall under the table.” Like Sonneborn’s party, the ecological-democratic party ÖDP could also be affected by a two-percent clause and no longer move into the European Parliament. Her Secretary General Claudius Moseler told the Augsburger Allgemeine: “It’s not about the functionality of the European Parliament, but simply about more mandates for the big parties”.

In fact, the small factions have been taking seats away from the big parties in recent years. For example, the CDU and CSU together received 42 seats in the 2009 European elections. Five years later, there were still 34 – seven for the AfD and seven for other parties (which had no seats in 2009). The Union currently has 29 seats. The AfD, on the other hand, has eleven seats, and the other small parties together have nine seats.

“Too much transparency, too bad jokes”

Sonneborn, who made a name for himself as the author of the satirical magazine Titanic and has been a member of the European Parliament since 2014, tried irony on the one hand. “The Groko Haram wants in particular to kick the party out of the EU Parliament again – too much transparency, too bad jokes,” said. On the other hand, it is of course about the principle of democratic theory. “We know from the CDU that in times of declining election results, it is explicitly about the mandates of the small parties,” said Sonneborn. With its organ lawsuit, the party wants the Federal Constitutional Court to prohibit the Federal President from drafting the relevant law, as reported by Spiegel.

In Germany, the Federal Constitutional Court overturned threshold clauses for the European elections in 2011 and 2014. The reason: threshold clauses are incompatible with the Basic Law, at least in European elections – for the five percent hurdle in the federal elections, different standards apply. Because the big parties in this country weren’t making any headway, they put pressure on the EU. The Council of the European Union then changed the European Direct Election Act (DWA) almost exactly five years ago and thus decided to introduce a threshold clause with a range of two to five percent. German parties took this as an opportunity to make a third attempt.

EU Parliament facing growing challenges

FDP parliamentary group manager Stephan Thomae told the “Augsburger Allgemeine”: “The European Parliament is already very fragmented because the parliamentary groups are made up of representatives of the different national parties. That makes decision-making very demanding.” However, the challenges and thus the importance of Parliament are likely to grow in the coming decades. “If the organs of the EU are to be made future-proof, further fragmentation of Parliament must be counteracted,” said the lawyer.

If the party fails in Karlsruhe and the law comes into force, the EU decision would still only take effect after all member states have agreed. However, two countries are still missing. ÖDP General Secretary Moseler explained that it should now be “curious whether Spain and Cyprus will ratify this new regulation in time for the EU elections”.

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