Basic research about party law and social science party issues is the actual scientific basis the PRuFs work is based on. Basic research lies the foundation for everything else: for applied research and teaching as well as for public relations.
Parties have a role as mediator between the state and social spheres of any political system. Society is delegating their interests and claims to power towards the state through parties. The state, on the other hand, uses parties to legitimate its decisions within society - no wonder that frictions often appear. This is where research efforts come in.
Party law as democracy and competition law
Party law – and on a larger scale the law of politics in general, i.e. including electoral and parliamentary law – is an essential law for democracy. The delicate process of the regulated struggle for power in democracy is constantly endangered by the influence of the previous political rulers, but also by positions of social power. Therefore, free and equal competition for the offices of political decision-makers requires indispensable legal protection.
The law of the political process is thus a central matter of every democracy. The law on political parties is political competition law and as such is intended to regulate processes of gaining or losing power.
In this function, this legal matter is of course subject to heavy influence and pressure. Statements on a question of party law, if they are unpleasant for a party, are all too easily suspected of being guided by party politics. This is even more obvious because the party-political opponent is only too happy to make use of a legal interpretation that is favourable to him. The law on political parties is thus in danger of being influenced and even controlled by interested parties.
For this reason, it is necessary to develop answers in advance to – in a scientific sense of stock policy – provide answers, which are not suspected of being favourable to any of the current parties. It especially is important to improve dogmatic structures which link the different parts of party law to each other: the more intensively the different elements of party law are linked, the less can be achieved in one place through external influence.
The legal system thus gains an inertia or, in other words, an autonomy from external attempts at control. Only then the party law can fulfil its essential function to achieve neutral regulation and disciplining of the political process. This doesn’t necessarily lead to a legislation of politics. On the contrary: Politics can decide political questions more freely and openly precisely because the limits of what is legally permissible are fixed with sufficient precision. From a jurisprudential point of view, the institute’s primary task is to prepare this legal material in order to be able to answer questions in line with the aforementioned stock policy.
Interdisciplinary and international character
Basic research is thus understood to be the elaboration of more far-reaching and abstract concepts, from which individual dogmatic results can then be obtained. For example, the understanding of party law (or parliamentary law) as competition law. The requirements of such an understanding as well as the consequences to be drawn from it are to be worked out - also in cooperation with political science, economic and sociological competition theories - and to think through legal consequences.
This already addresses one characteristic of this legal basic research: its interdisciplinary character. In applied law research, i.e. in answering legal questions that arise in practice, there is less opportunity for this. On the contrary to national politics and national law, science does not stop at country borders, which is why basic research of course is internationally orientated.
This increasingly applies to the legal profession as well. Therefore, the development of party law is being pursued in constant contact with party law scholars in other countries. A separate point is the elaboration of the legal regulation of the European parties, which have been given a prominent role in Europe. This also becomes clear in view of the statute on European political parties, especially regarding their financing.
Finally, basic research also goes beyond the framework set by the actual subject area and opens further subject areas that are incongruent with practical action. So e.g. the right of the parties outlined here can be brought in fruitful contact with the religious law of a pluralized society and with the right of the trade unions and employee associations: These are in each case ideologically charged matters that can learn mutually from each other, keyword here is "right of tendency". So far not seen common features of these fields of law can be a considerable enrichment for the individual areas.
Why political parties?
Ever since Robert Michels and Max Weber, political science repeatedly dealt with the legitimacy and the democratic-theoretical implementation of the parties’ claim to power. Why do we even need political parties at all? The answer is simple: there is no alternative.
As problematic as some questions about the parties’ legitimacy, their intraparty democracy, or their financing might be, they cannot be replaced by interest groups, ad hoc movements, direct-democratic referendums or early parliamentary myths of representation by individual members of parliament.
The PRuF’s scientific publications have always touched on the fundamentals of party research and are thus a genuine expression of basic scientific research.