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Further information on oral hearing concerning "Parliamentary minority and opposition rights"
Press Release No. 83/2015 of 12 November 2015
Reference: 2 BvE 4/14
The Organstreit proceedings concern applications by the parliamentary group of DIE LINKE in the German Bundestag (parliamentary group of “The Left” in the GermanBundestag; applicant) with regard to the constitutionally required extent of parliamentary minority and opposition rights in the German Bundestag (respondent).
1. Under the Basic Law, to exercise certain parliamentary minority rights, certain quorums have to be reached. These include
- the right of one quarter of the members of the Bundestag to request the Bundestag to file a subsidiary action (Art. 23 sec. 1a sentence 2 GG),
- the right of one third of the members of the Bundestag to request the President of the Bundestag to convene the Bundestag (Art. 39 sec. 3 sentence 3 GG),
- the right of one quarter of the members of the Bundestag to request that a committee of inquiry be established by the Bundestag (Art. 44 sec. 1 sentence 1 GG),
- the right of one quarter of the members of the Defence Committee to request that the Defence Committee act as a committee of inquiry (Art. 45a sec. 2 sentence 2 GG), and
- the right of one quarter of the members of the Bundestag to file an application to initiate abstract judicial review proceedings (Art. 93 sec. 1 no. 2 GG).
For the main part, those rights are also provided at statutory level. In addition, at statutory level there are further parliamentary minority rights whose exercise requires certain quorums to be reached.
2. Due to the majority situation in the 18th German Bundestag, the parliamentary groups that do not support the Federal Government, that is DIE LINKE and BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN (ALLIANCE 90 / THE GREENS), have 127 out of (now) 630 seats. Consequently, the members of Parliament of the parliamentary opposition groups do not reach the quorums, enshrined in the Basic Law and provided for at statutory level, that are necessary to exercise certain parliamentary minority rights.
4. On 3 April 2014, the respondent rejected both bills that had been proposed by parliamentary opposition groups to change these quorums – in one case by the applicant alone, in the other case by the applicant together with the parliamentary group of BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN. The draft bill submitted by the parliamentary group of DIE LINKE proposed to change the Basic Law. The other draft bill provided for changes at statutory level. The Bundestag instead decided to amend the Rules of Procedure of the Bundestag (GO–BT) by introducing § 126a (“Special application of parliamentary minority rights in the 18th electoral term”). As a consequence, in the plenary of the Bundestag, certain parliamentary minority rights can be exercised by 120 members of Parliament, whereas, in committees of the Bundestag, such rights are provided to “all committee members who are members of parliamentary groups that do not support the Federal Government”. However, § 126a GO–BT does not change the quorum for filing an application to initiate an abstract judicial review.