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NUMERO 24 - 19/12/2018

 Powers and Limits of the Unelected Federal Government in Germany

The Government is a complex organ and institution, but not a permanent one. German often compared its own “Regierbarkeit” with Italy’s duration of governments, but nowadays Italy learned political alternation and could be more worried about Germany’s instability. Germany is proud to have excellent scores under the World Bank Governance Indicators for “government effectiveness”, with a very high percentile rank of 94,2 (2016), and for “voice and accountability”, with another very high percentile rank of 94,6 (2016), but it has to be aware also that today scores of “political stability and absence of violence” have decreased from 95,2 in 2000 to 71,0 in 2016. Considering the election of a seven-party parliament, the failure of the so called “Jamaica-coalition” and the negotiated renewal of a coalition that can no more be named “great”, can political destabilization be stopped and reversed under the existing rules? The last time when Germany elected a 7-party parliament was in 1932, with a paralyzing majority of right- and left-wing parties that could not be excluded from political competition. The unsuccessful procedures of prohibition of the NPD and some reluctance of the secret service for constitutional defense (Verfassungschutz) to assess the potential of unconstitutional radicalism within the new AFD are part of the new instability. But the republic Bonn and Berlin desired not to repeat the trauma of rapid political destabilization suffered under the republic of Weimar and the trend towards instability and increasing political violence could be a more common European experience due to the weakening of both the national State and the European Union. Larger coalitions have been practiced in Austria and Italy, smaller even in UK, a minority government is running Spain and the acting government of Belgium (544 days) was one of the longest of European constitutional history. After 1989, political ideologies and parties have been fragmented in eastern and western Europe. Politics are more and more personalized and presidentialized, meanwhile terrorism shocked the democratized northern constitutional monarchies as well as the southern republics. Nevertheless acting governments seem to have produced incredibly increasing GNP (Belgium 2%, Spain 3,2%, Netherlands 3,3%) and need further studies. To what extend the new instability of political governments in Europe is a sign of post-democracy and could or should be prevented under the existing constitution? Under a parliamentary democracy, the demos has not only the ultimate decision over the constitution (Art. 146), but even a periodical decision over continuity or discontinuity of parliament and government. Democratic changes in parliament and government are possible and can be desirable for the people, but the “demos” of a democracy needs always stable institutions of government for its “kratein”. Effective discontinuity in policies and politics can be needed, but should not be detrimental for the formal continuity of the State and its “robust constitution”… (continues)

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