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[Translate to English:] Weitere Tagungen

Other Conventions

Beneath the Symposium and the Graduate Conference, the PRuF hosts several other Conventions.

Annual Conference "Parties and the State (25.-26.10.2013)

In political science, the tense relationship between "parties and the state" is discussed in particular along the lines of the question "party democracy or party state?" Party research in particular has taken up this topic intensively, as the cartel party debate shows. However, legal scholars are also asking about the relationship between parties and the state, for example, with regard to party and political financing. Thus, it made sense to organize the AK annual conference 2013 together with the PRuF Düsseldorf, so that political science and legal research results could be presented and discussed by the approximately 70 participants. The conference was supported by the DVPW and the publishers Springer VS, Barbara Budrich and Nomos.

The relationship between parties and the state primarily concerns the perspective of the influence of the state on parties as well as the influence of parties on the state, as Elmar Wiesendahl (APOS Hamburg) explained in his introductory lecture on the "Party State in the Changing Statehood." With his discussion of the governmentalization of parties and the embedding of the party state in modern statehood as well as the transformation of modern statehood, he created the conceptual as well as substantive framework for the conference. He illuminated the area of state presence and the modes of action of parties, argued against exaggerated decline theories, and emphasized that parties still had ultimate decision-making authority in the political system. However, he said, the formative state is developing into a "market-conforming democracy," which is leading to a shift from party statehood to "governmentness," a "dominance of party government," and ultimately a "party-democratic erosion and disenchantment of the party state."

Parties and party competition

This was followed by Simon Franzmann (Düsseldorf), who presented causes as well as suggestions for avoiding "logical fallacies in analyses of party competition." He recommended to clearly separate ontological concept definitions from concept specifications, to use typologies and to understand cooperation as an integral part of politics. Franzmann proposed an emancipatory design of political science studies that helps avoid misconceptions in concept specification. Klaus Detterbeck (Magdeburg) spoke on the question of party competition in party cartels, highlighting the special nature of the cartel party type and the relations of (cartel) parties to the state. He focused his lecture on the recording of parties as cartels in multi-level systems, which he tried to open up via a territorial perspective of inner-party democracy. Arne Pilniok (Hamburg) contributed from a jurisprudential perspective on the "Role of Parties in the State Organization of Elections: Decision-makers in their own cause or independent guardians of competition?". The problem is of crucial importance, he said, since elections are to be understood as an administrative problem; after all, parties can act here on their own behalf. He outlined the mechanisms of intentional depoliticization of electoral organization, such as the creation of independent institutions, self-binding and constitutional court control. Nevertheless, the division of electoral districts and the conduct of elections are problematic, and the composition of the electoral committees is not apolitical. From a political science perspective, Hendrik Träger (Magdeburg) discussed "The Party Politicization of the Bundesrat," especially during the Merkel II government. Using the dissonance indicators "Appeal to the Mediation Committee" and "Refusal of Consent," he analyzed the extent to which action in the Bundesrat was politically motivated. Träger visualized when conflict situations arose and pointed out that in the course of forming a government in Hesse, a possible grand coalition at the federal level could for the first time not have its own majority in the Bundesrat from the outset. This would be a new situation in this form, making the Greens a decisive factor in the Bundesrat. At the end of this thematic block, Manfred Stelzer (Vienna) spoke on the "New regulation of party financing in Austria". After partly surprising explanations of the previous history, Stelzer presented the latest new regulations and offered an overview of the control mechanisms that had been created. The effects of the reform, he said, were a significant increase in public funding, but above all a de-limitation as well as a decoupling of party funding from electoral behavior and membership fees. The result would be a system that seals itself off, as discussed not least in the cartel party thesis.

Party Law and Party Organization

Julian Krüper (Bochum) asked in his lecture "'Party as a Legal Form. Theorie und Praxis der Ausgestaltungskompetenz des Gesetzgebers aus Art. 21 Abs. 3 GG" (Theory and Practice of the Legislator's Competence to Form the Party on the Basis of Article 21 (3) of the Basic Law), whether the "closer details" regulated there encompassed more than forms of organization. Following on from the teachings of constitutional law scholars Pascale Cancik and Hermann Pünder, Krüper stated that party law is a "condition for the success of representative democracy. From a descriptive point of view, the distinctive function of the party concept was decisive, while from a normative point of view, questions had to be asked about its suitability. When considering the functions of legal action, it is above all the balancing of limitation and enabling that is difficult in the case of parties. Within the framework of Article 21 (3) of the Basic Law, not too much should be regulated; the Basic Law is designed for openness of the political process. However, the current regulations are unsatisfactory in many respects. In his contribution "Zwischen Parteienrecht und Organisationsfreiheit," Sebastian Bukow (Düsseldorf) linked theoretical considerations and empirical findings on the internal organization of German parties. Drawing on neoinstitutionalist approaches, he examined from a political science perspective the tension between legal organizational requirements and party statutes, understood as conscious party organizational decisions. He showed that party law tends to be underestimated in its normative effect, but overestimated in its organizational-determining effect. Parties could make use of the organizational freedoms given by law, which resulted in differences in the statutes, which, however, usually lost their significance in practice. He concluded that party law does not provide such a narrow framework for the organization of German parties as is often portrayed.

Intra-party (membership) participation continues to be a current, much-discussed topic in party research. Timo Grunden (Giessen) presented a paper on the "Failure of Grassroots Democracy in the Parliamentary System of Government. He elaborated on the similarity of the problems of the Pirate Party with those of the Greens 30 years ago (imperative mandate, voluntary work, grassroots integration, transparency). The current problems were very similar and could be explained by assumptions of the principal-agent approach. For the Pirates, this means: They would either have to adapt - like the Greens - or face failure. Uwe Kranenpohl (Nuremberg) and Henrik Gast (Düsseldorf) presented a proposal for the empirical measurement of inner-party democracy in their paper "Erosion of Inner-Party Democracy - On the Development of Control Potentials in Germany, Austria and Switzerland". At the same time, they discussed how this could be better designed and interpreted an increase in "quasi" member decisions as an indication of erosion, creating a power imbalance between professional leadership and voluntary apparatus.

Parties and government

Julia Fleischer (Amsterdam) addressed the question of patronage in her administrative science presentation "Der Kamineffekt - neu angeheizt? Old and New Forms of Patronage in the Federal Administration," she focused on governing parties. She vividly presented current research results on party politicization in ministerial administration by looking at 396 state secretaries and proved that the "chimney effect," i.e., the faster promotion of top officials who "fit" party politics, was measurable. Isabelle Borucki (Trier) also examined parties in government at its core, focusing on government communication and asking, "How much party is in government communication?" Among other things, she addressed the partial internal professionalization of the ministerial bureaucracy, outlined tensions between departments, and raised the question of whether an oligarchization and cartelization of communication elites is taking place. It is possible that populism serves as a new communication strategy for capturing transparency demands and for mobilization.

Conference Report: Dipl.-Jur. Jan Benjamin Daniels (Osnabrück)

International party researchers discuss at Mickeln Castle

In the pleasant atmosphere of Mickeln Castle, the guest house of HHUD, a conference of internationally renowned party researchers took place on 29 and 30.6.12. International guests were Petr Kopecký (Leiden, Netherlands), Susan Scarrow (Houston, USA), Elin Allern (Oslo, Norway), Gideon Rahat (Hebrew University, Israel), Paul Webb (Sussex, UK). From the HHUD side, Thomas Poguntke, Director of PRUF (Institute for German and International Party Law and Party Research) participated as host. The participants met to revive an earlier prokect on party organizations by Richard S. Katz and Peter Mair. Paul Webb and Thomas Poguntke are among the veterans of this first project, which collected international comparative data on party organizations for the period 1960 to 1990. The key reason for the current project on party organizations is to fill a gap in data on party organizations, as there has been no comprehensive, long-term survey in this area since 1990.

During the meeting at Mickeln, the variables and related questions in the central survey questionnaire were discussed intensively over two days with a view to the new project. The aim was to adapt these in such a way that they could be applied in an international data collection on political parties in all countries, in order to be able to work out not only party change in individual countries but also similarities and differences between political parties in an international comparison.

The long-term collection of data on party organizations has two main objectives: First, the collected data are to be made available to the international research community, especially in the context of doctoral projects. In addition, the members of the international group of party researchers plan to publish the insights gained from the data in a joint book project. Further publications in journals are to follow independently.

Another meeting in a larger group will take place next year in another country. Until then, there is still a lot of work to be done by the respective country experts with the finalization of the survey questionnaire and the first data collection.

PRuF organized expert meeting on the topic of party bans

Last Friday, the PRuF hosted a high-level expert discussion on the topic of "Party Bans under German Law and the ECHR" with around 30 participants from the judiciary, academia, politics and the media.

The discussion about banning the NPD has been going on for many years, and the question of a ban has hit the headlines time and again, most recently in connection with the murders committed by the so-called "NSU". In addition to the political desirability of a ban, the discourse revolves around the legal prerequisites for the verdict of unconstitutionality under Article 21 II of the Basic Law. Two problem areas are discussed again and again in this context: the so-called "V-Mann problem," which probably mainly concerns problems of attributing certain behaviors to the NPD, and, in addition, the actual requirements for a party ban, which the BVerfG developed in the 1950s but has not applied since. This already mentioned a first topic of the expert discussion, namely the fundamental question of whether the jurisprudence on Article 21 II GG developed during the Adenauer era can be continued in its existing form.

The second main topic of the expert discussion was closely related to this, namely the relationship between Article 21 II GG and Article 11 ECHR as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). In its 2003 ruling on the ban of the Turkish "Welfare Party," the ECtHR specified its requirements for the legality of a party ban and partially revised them. Compared with the BVerfG's traditional case law, the changes probably tighten the requirements for a party ban and therefore make it seem advisable to consider the fate of a possible German ban of the NPD before the Strasbourg Court. However, this European aspect of the "NPD ban" issue has received little public attention to date.

Against this background, the expert conference pursued the goal of establishing an exchange between the judiciary, academia, politics and the media in a confidential atmosphere in order to dovetail professional discourse and the formation of public opinion on the equally topical and difficult issue of a ban on the NPD.

Thanks to the kind support of the law firm Hogan Lovells, the conference was able to take place in the fantastic Sky Office on Düsseldorf's Kennedydamm.

Lively exchange between party scholars from East and West

In the middle of the carnival days, the interdisciplinary "Third Annual European Conference on Political Parties" took place at PRuF on March 4 and 5, 2011.

A total of 25 political scientists, lawyers and contemporary historians from Eastern and Western Europe, both with doctoral and post-doctoral degrees, came together to present and discuss their research findings on the topic of "Taking Stock of Democratic Governance in Europe: Past, Present, Future". The two previous conferences were held in Birmingham and Paris.

After an overview of party research in Eastern and Western Europe by the deputy director of the PRuF, Prof. Dr. Thomas Poguntke, the focus of the 17 presentations this year was primarily on Eastern European party systems.

Across all presentations, the specific characteristics of Eastern European party systems in the current situation continue to be a high degree of fragmentation and high electoral fluctuations on the one hand, and the development of so-called "state or ruling parties" on the other. Beyond Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Serbia, East Germany, and even the European level were starting points for the case studies and comparisons presented.

In addition to contemporary historical studies, the focus was repeatedly on the future development of Eastern European party systems, which is necessary and desirable from a normative point of view or possible from an analytical point of view. The strengthening of civil society as a prerequisite for party democracy was linked to the anxious question of whether party systems in Eastern Europe will move further away from the democratic ideal, as has already happened in some cases, or whether political parties can play an important role in the necessary reforms as a connecting link between state and society.

In his concluding remarks, Prof. Dr. Thomas Poguntke came to a positive conclusion of the conference: It had been a fruitful exchange, which they would like to deepen in the future. This could serve to learn more about the respective party systems and, on this basis, to achieve further agreement between different perspectives on the research topic of political parties, which unites them all. Oleksandr Svyetlov, Johannes Rau Fellow at the PRuF, on whose initiative the conference was held at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, summed up: "This year's conference succeeded in bringing together the interested public, civil society practice and political science to discuss the problems and success stories from the theory and practice of Eastern European party democracies from both current and historical perspectives." Prof. Dr. Martin Morlok, Director of PRuF, expressed his special thanks to Oleksandr Svyetlov for this and for the organization of the conference.

Website - Third Annual European Graduate Conference on Political Parties

Website - Politics and Society

Current program

Memorial symposium for Dimitris Th. Tsatsos on May 6 and 7 in Hagen, Germany

In memory of Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Dimitris Th. Tsatsos†, an academic symposium entitled "Constitution - Parties - Fundamental Order of the Union" will be held at the FernUniversität Hagen on May 6 and 7, 2011. Friends, colleagues and former companions want to pay tribute to Dimitris Tstatsos' work and impact with this event. The great European, teacher of constitutional law and founder of the PRuF passed away last spring at the age of 76. The program of the symposium is now available for download.

Program of the commemorative symposium


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