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Accreditation conditions and information for journalists and visitors Oral hearing in the proceedings concerning the “3% electoral threshold in the law on the European elections”
Press Release No. 72/2013 of 29 November 2013
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- Special Fax Number for Accreditation: +49 721 9101-68400 -
As announced, the Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court will conduct an oral hearing on Wednesday 18 December 2013 on Organstreit proceedings and constitutional complaints which challenge the 3% electoral threshold in the law on the European elections (§ 2 sec. 7 of the European Elections Act, Europawahlgesetz - EuWG), introduced by the law of 7 October 2013 (Federal Law Gazette, Bundesgesetzblatt - BGBl I p. 3749). Press release no. 68/2013 of 22 November 2013 contains additional information (in German), including the outline of the oral hearing.
Please Note the Following Important Information for the Accreditation:
Accreditation requests can only be made by telefax on the form provided, under the number +49 721 9101-68400. The accreditation period starts on Tuesday 3 December 2013 at 12:00 noon and ends on Tuesday 10 December 2013 at 12:00 noon. For further information, please consult the last pages of this press release.
Subject-Matter of the Proceedings:
According to § 2 sec. 7 EuWG, only parties and other political associations that have received at least 3% of votes are taken into account in the allocation of seats in the European Parliament. This threshold was inserted by Art. 1 no. 2 letter d of the Fifth Act Amending the European Elections Act of 7 October 2013 (BGBl I p. 3749).
1. In its judgment of 9 November 2011, the Federal Constitutional Court declared the 5% electoral threshold in the European elections, which was in force at that time, incompatible with Art. 3 sec. 1 and Art. 21 sec. 1 GG, and hence void (Decisions of the Federal Constitutional Court, Entscheidungen des Bundesverfassungsgerichts - BVerfGE 129, 300). It held that the factual and legal circumstances existing at the time did not provide sufficient reasons for justifying the serious interference with equal suffrage and equal opportunities of political parties. Even after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, it was not sufficiently likely that a lack of the challenged threshold would impair the European Parliament's ability to function. Moreover, as long as the German Bundestag was competent for electoral law, there was no danger that the European Parliament would no longer be able to modify electoral law in a situation in which its functioning had been impaired.
2. On 4 June 2013, the parliamentary groups of CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP and BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN introduced a bill in the Bundestag to amend the European Elections Act, which among other things stipulated the introduction of a 3% electoral threshold. They justified their decision with a European Parliament resolution of 22 November 2012, in which the Member States were called upon to establish in their electoral law appropriate and proportionate minimum thresholds for the allocation of seats; in the reasoning, reference was made to the increased importance of reliable majorities in the European Parliament due to the new arrangements for the election of the European Commission introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon, and the changing relationship between Parliament and the Commission they entailed. Pursuant to this bill, the development that the European Parliament resolution expressed would result in increased antagonism within the European Parliament, as well as between the Commission and the Parliament. Strong fragmentation in Parliament would threaten to block the formation of political will in Parliament; this particular development could not be foreseen when the Federal Constitutional Court rendered its decision of 9 November 2011.
3. On 13 June 2013, the Bundestag passed the bill. This is challenged by the following applicants in four Organstreit proceedings: - Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands; - Bundesverband der Bürgerrechtspartei Die Freiheit; - Ab jetzt ... Demokratie durch Volksabstimmung, Allianz Graue Panther, Bündnis 21/RRP, Deutsche Konservative Partei, Deutsche Zukunft, DSLP - Die Bürgerpartei, Familien-Partei Deutschlands, Freie Wähler Deutschland, Graue Panther Deutschland, Partei für Franken; - Piratenpartei Deutschland; the Partei für Arbeit, Rechtsstaat, Tierschutz, Elitenförderung und Basisdemokratische Initiative (die PARTEI) joined this set of proceedings.
4. After the entry into force of the Act, constitutional complaints were lodged, three of which are subject-matter of the oral hearing. Apart from this, another three Organstreit proceedings were brought by the following applicants: - Bundesvereinigung Freie Wähler und Ökologisch-Demokratische Partei - Die Republikaner - AUF - Partei für Arbeit, Umwelt und Familie sowie AUF - Christen für Deutschland.
5. The applicants and complainants hold the view that the 3% electoral threshold violates equal suffrage and equal opportunities of political parties. They argue that the fundamental reasons of the Second Senate's decision of 9 November 2011 are still valid because the factual and legal circumstances have not changed since 2011. The European Parliament resolution is a mere declaration of intent and thus not binding. According to them, it is mere speculation to assume that the European Parliament will become more strongly politicised in the future if political groups nominate leading candidates for the office of President of the European Commission. Moreover, the arrangements made in the Treaty of Lisbon for the election of the President of the European Commission were already taken into account in the 2011 decision. Apart from this, some applicants regard the introduction of the 3% electoral threshold as an impermissible repetition of a statute, and claim that the principle of institutional loyalty (Organtreue) has been violated.
Accreditation Conditions and Information for Journalists
The accreditation procedure starts on Tuesday 3 December 2013 at 12:00 noon. Accreditation requests received before this point in time will not be considered. The Federal Constitutional Court will not of its own accord inform the sender if an accreditation request has been made ahead of time.
The accreditation procedure ends on Tuesday 10 December 2013 at 12:00 noon. After the expiry of this period, no accreditations are possible.
Accreditation requests can be made by telefax only. They must be sent to the telefax number +49 721 9101-68400; several lines will be connected to this number. Accreditation requests which are sent to other telefax numbers of the Federal Constitutional Court will not be considered, nor will accreditation requests received by email.
For accreditation requests, the following forms must be used: http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/documents/Akkreditierung-Presse- Formblatt-Drei-Prozent-Klausel-DE.pdf
(in German) or
(in English). The form must be filled in completely.
The accreditation requests will be considered in the order in which they have been received. This will be determined by the order shown on the notice of receipt in the log report of the fax server of the fax number +49 712 9101-68400. If faxes have been received at the same time, accreditation is awarded by drawing lots.
A few days after the expiry of the deadline, the Federal Constitutional Court will notify the applicants by email of whether their accreditation requests have been successful or unsuccessful.
Available Seats and Allocation of Seats
In the press gallery, there will be a total of 40 seats for media representatives. In addition, two press rooms (C003 and C213) will be established, which will provide a total of another 47 seats. The available seats are allocated as follows:
1. In the press gallery, 15 seats are reserved in advance for full members (honorary members excepted) of the Justizpressekonferenz Karlsruhe e.V. (JPK). Each medium which is represented in the JPK by a full member is entitled to one of these seats. The same applies to each full member who does not represent a specific medium. A full member who represents more than one medium is only entitled to one seat.
2. For the distribution of the other 72 seats, the accreditation requests will be considered in the order in which they have been received; the media will not be broken down into groups. The seats in the press gallery are allocated first, then, counting consecutively, the seats in press room C003, and last, the seats in press room C213.
3. First, every medium accredited in due time is allocated only one seat. Another seat per medium is allocated if all media accredited in due time have received a seat. The same applies to the allocation of further seats.
It is not permitted to make phone calls, tweet or send other messages, retrieve digital data, or use the internet in any way within or from the courtroom. All electronic devices which can be used for these purposes, in particular mobile phones, laptop computers and tablet computers, may not be used in the courtroom. Media representatives can obtain permission to use computers in offline mode if it is ensured that the devices are not used for sound or image recording or for data transmission.
The seats in the press gallery must be taken by 9:30 a.m. If a seat has not been taken by this time, it will be allocated otherwise. At 9:40 a.m., the seats in the press gallery which have remained vacant will be offered to the journalists with the lowest seat number which are present in press room C003 at this time. Journalists who do not have a seat in the press gallery will have to leave the courtroom after the presiding justice of the Senate has established the presence of the parties to the proceedings. The area outside the courtroom must be vacated.
There will be an audio transmission from the courtroom to both press rooms. Each press room is equipped with 230V sockets. The Federal Constitutional Court cannot guarantee the capacity of mobile telephone and data networks. In press room C213, a total of 15 additional workplaces are at the disposal of all journalists who have been allocated seats in the press gallery. These workplaces are not assigned individually.
Taking Photographs and Filming; Pooling
1. Taking photographs, filming and sound recording are permissible until the end of the establishment of the presence of the parties to the proceedings by the presiding justice of the Senate. After that, photographers and camera teams have to leave the courtroom and the press gallery.
2. Two television teams (a public and a private television station with a maximum of three cameras each) and six photographers (four agency photographers and two free photographers) are admitted to the courtroom (pooling).
The willingness to be a pool representative must be stated with the accreditation request. The pool representatives undertake to supply, upon request, their photographs and films to other radio and television stations, as well as photographic agencies.
The allocation of seats to pool representatives takes place in the order in which the faxes with their accreditation requests have been received. This will be determined by the order shown on the notice of receipt in the log report of the fax server of the fax number +49 712 9101-68400. If faxes have been received at the same time, the seats are allocated by drawing lots.
The television stations, agencies and photographers are free to determine the persons who are part of their teams.
3. When taking photographs and filming in the courtroom, photographers, camera operators and other media representatives must ensure that the Senate has free vision to all sides. Taking photographs, filming and sound recording from behind the Justices' bench is not allowed. It is not allowed to enter the area behind the Justices' bench. Instructions by the court staff must be complied with. Taking photographs and filming is only permitted with silent devices without a flash.
4. After the end of the oral hearing, and during the lunch break, a period of 20 minutes is assigned for interviews with the parties to the proceedings in the courtroom, as well as for filming them and taking photographs of them there. Beyond this period, the area in front of the court room, including the press niches, is available for this purpose.
Vehicles of Radio and Television Teams; Technicians
There are only a limited number of parking spaces available for SNG vehicles, editing vehicles and OB vans. If parking spaces are needed, this must be indicated with the accreditation request on the form provided. The parking spaces are allocated in the order in which the requests have been received. For the allocation of the parking spaces, the following information is requested: number plate, vehicle type, make, dimensions (L x W x H in meters), weight and, if applicable, demand of power to be supplied by the Federal Constitutional Court.
The names, dates of birth and ID card numbers of the accompanying technicians and the vehicle data can be submitted subsequently. They must be sent via fax by Monday, 16 December 2013, 10:00 a.m. at the latest (fax no. +49 721 9101-461 - use only for the data which are submitted subsequently). The following forms must be used as well: http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/documents/Akkreditierung-Presse- Formblatt-Drei-Prozent-Klausel-DE.pdf
(in German) or
Data which are submitted after the expiry of the deadline or by email cannot be considered.
It is possible to arrive and to set up the equipment on the day before the oral hearing from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on the day of the oral hearing between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.
Setting up of Studios
It is only possible to set up studios in the press niches. The two large press niches will be allocated to the television stations that act as pool representatives. The smaller press niche will be allocated in the order in which the faxes with the accreditation requests have been received. This will be determined by the order shown on the notice of receipt in the log report of the fax server of the fax number +49 712 9101-68400. If faxes have been received at the same time, the press niches are allocated by drawing lots.
This information is based on § 17a of the Federal Constitutional Court Act in conjunction with the supplementing provisions laid down by the First and the Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court.
Information for Interested Citizens
Interested citizens who want to attend the oral hearing are requested to register, by phone or by fax, under the following address:
Postfach 1771, 76006 Karlsruhe, Germany
Phone: +49 721 9101-400
Fax: +49 721 9101-461
Registration starts on Tuesday 3 December 2013 at 12:00 noon and ends on Tuesday 10 December 2013 at 12:00 noon.
The registration must indicate the person's surname, first name, date of birth and a phone or fax number. Per registration, no more than one accompanying person can be registered.
Registrations will be considered in the order in which they have been received.