Free Voters of Bavaria

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Free Voters of Bavaria
Freie Wähler Bayern
Founded1978; 40 years ago (1978) (as Landesverband)
1997; 21 years ago (1997) (as party)
HeadquartersMunich, Germany
Youth wingYoung Free Voters
Social liberalism
Liberal conservatism[4]
Green liberalism
Green conservatism
Direct democracy[5]
Political positionCentre to centre-right
National affiliationFree Voters
Landtag of Bavaria
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The name Free Voters of Bavaria (German: Freie Wähler Bayern) applies to both the Bavarian State Association of Free and Independent Voters (seat: Munich) and the Bavarian state chapter of the nationwide party Free Voters (German: Freie Wähler).

Relationship of umbrella organization and party[edit]

The executive committee of the umbrella organization (state association, German: Landesverband) and the party (state chapter, German: Landesvereinigung) is identical. However, this must not hide the fact that these are not only structurally completely independent organizations. While the state association has voter groups as members and, for data protection (privacy law) reasons, may not even know the names of the members of the local voter groups. The members of the party on the other hand are natural persons. Membership in a local voter group is not a requirement for membership in the party. In addition, only a small proportion of the members of the voter groups become members of the party.

Executive committee of the Freie Wähler Landesverband and the Freie Wähler Landesvereinigung

Landesvorsitzender Hubert Aiwanger
Stellv. Landesvorsitzende Armin Kroder, Ulrike Müller, Michael Piazolo, Simson Hipp
Generalsekretär Michael Piazolo
JUNGE FREIE WÄHLER Landesvorsitzender Felix Locke
Landesschatzmeister Edgar Klüpfel
Landesjustiziar Georg Meiski
Beisitzer Leopold Herz (Schwaben), Peter Dorscht (Oberfranken), Hans Jürgen Fahn (Unterfranken), Christine Degenhart (Oberbayern), Peter Bauer (Mittelfranken), Manuela Koller (Oberpfalz), Heinrich Schmidt (Niederbayern), Felix Stahl (München)

In order to avoid a competitive relationship between the voter groups and the party, the party does not stand for election at municipal and district level, although the possibility for it is provided for in its statute. In Bavaria, the lowest organizational level of the party is the district chapter. Local chapters currently do not exist. The Bavarian state chapter (Landesvereinigung Bayern) does not use the blue-yellow logo of the federal party, but the green-orange logo of the state association. Even in public relations, the Free Voters of Bavaria usually do not distinguish between state association and state chapter.

Umbrella organization[edit]

Already since the 1950s, independent voter groups were formed by citizens in Bavaria at the local and regional levels, who took part in local elections as an alternative to the established parties with their own, independent candidates. Numerous such local and district groups founded the umbrella organization of the Bavarian State Association of Free and Independent Voters (own designation FREIE WÄHLER, also abbreviated FW) in 1978, in order to agree on common goals and strategies. Currently, around 870 local and district voter groups are organized in the umbrella organization. The state association is a member of the Federal Association of Free Voters Germany. It has no election program and does not stand for election.

Organization of the umbrella organization[6][edit]

The FW Landesverband Bayern is divided into bezirk associations.[7] Even if the statute calls district and local associations and this is also communicated by the association, these do not exist as a subdivision of the state association, but are independent voter groups. It follows that not all local voter groups organized in the association necessarily have to be members of a voter group at district level. Legally, these are two independent memberships. In a community, more than one voter group can be a member of the state association.

Since the voter groups organized in the association do not have to carry Free Voters or the abbreviation FW in the club name, but at the same time voter groups, which are not members of the state association, call themselves Free Voters, misunderstandings can occur.

Bezirksverband Vorsitzender
Mittelfranken Walter Schnell
Niederbayern Heinrich Schmidt
Oberbayern Eva Gottstein
Oberfranken Klaus Förster
Oberpfalz Tanja Schweiger
Schwaben Bernhard Pohl, MdL
Unterfranken Günther Felbinger

Participation in local elections[edit]

Voter groups are traditionally strongly represented at the municipal and district levels in Bavaria. In the municipal elections of 2008, they achieved 19% of the vote across Bavaria, making them the third largest group behind CSU and SPD.[8] However, only a fraction of these voter groups is organized in the State Association of Free Voters. Currently, 10(from 71) district chief executives come from the ranks of the voter groups organized in the association.

It is possible that several voter groups organized in the association compete in the same election and thus compete with each other. This is possible because the voter groups act autonomously and no election program from the state association exists. Although the Bezirk in Bavaria count to the municipal level, no voter groups run in elections at this level.


In the mid-1990s, the goal was to run for the Bavarian state parliament as part of the umbrella organization of the Free Voters. Since election proposals under the Bavarian State Electoral Law can only be submitted by political parties and voters' associations, but not by an umbrella organization,[9] in 1997, members of the local voter groups founded the association FW Freie Wähler Bayern e. V. with the aim of participating in the bezirk and state elections in Bavaria. It went on, as Landesvereinigung Bayern, to become the party Free Voters (Bundesvereinigung) in 2011. The purpose of the Landesvereinigung FREIE WÄHLER Bayern is, according to its statute, "participation at the political levels of the municipalities, bezirk, state, federal government and Europe" (Article 1 (5)).

Organization of the state chapter (party)[edit]

According to its statute,[10] the organs of the state chapter are the executive committee, the extended executive committee, and the delegate assembly. The executive committee of the state chapter consists of the state chairman, four equal deputies, the chairman of the "JUNGE FREIE WÄHLER Bayern", the treasurer, the legal clerk, and eight assessors. They currently are the same persons as at the state association. The party is subdivided into state, bezirk, and district chapters.

Bezirksvereinigung Vorsitzender
München Michael Piazolo
Mittelfranken Walter Schnell
Niederbayern Heinrich Schmidt
Oberbayern Eva Gottstein
Oberfranken Klaus Förster
Oberpfalz Tanja Schweiger
Schwaben Markus Brem
Unterfranken Hans Jürgen Fahn

Participation in bezirk and state elections[edit]

The decision to take part in state elections was made in 1997 at a state delegates' meeting by a narrow majority and subsequently legitimized by a membership poll. Nevertheless, the decision to take part in parliamentary elections was and is controversial within the voter groups. The advocates point out, as in other states, that the rules for the municipalities are made in the state. However, some voter groups withdrew from the umbrella organization or announced that they would not support its candidacy. The Free Voters, critics say, would leave their actual communal field of activity. According to the party law, they would receive the character of a party by participating in the state election. Even if the new organization decidedly called itself a voter group and an "alternative to the parties" and, according to the first statute of 7 June 1997, only included non-partisan citizens as members,[11] it did indeed approach the status of a party in terms of membership, organization, statutes and political objectives.[12] In 2011, this step was also formally completed: on 15 December 2011, FREIE WÄHLER Bayern e. V. integrated itself as "Landesvereinigung Bayern" into a newly founded, nationwide acting party "FREIE WÄHLER."[13][14] Its founding had become necessary in order to be able to participate in federal elections. This decision was also very controversial in its own ranks, and in the scientific discussion are voices that see negative repercussions on the party's successes in local politics and the self-image of the Free Voters as an ideology-free alternative to the established parties.[15]

The FW entered the Bavarian state election in 1998 for the first time and got 3.7% of the vote. In the 2003 election, its voter share was slightly increased to 4.0%. Despite this, FW's entry into the state parliament was missed again due to the five percent threshold. In the 2008 state election, the Free Voters finally received 10.2% of the vote and 21 representatives in the state legislature, forming, after CSU and SPD, the parliament's third strongest force. In the 2013 state election, the Free Voters, with 9.0% of the vote and 19 representatives, defended its third place, ahead of the party Alliance 90/The Greens Bavaria, which received 18 seats. Since 1998, the FW voter group has participated in elections to bezirk parliaments, which take place simultaneously with the state elections. Since there is no five percent threshold here, the Free Voters entered several bezirk parliaments. In the 2008 elections, a total of 24 seats, and in 2013, 21 seats, were won.

The Free Voters of Bavaria forms after Bavarian state election, 2018 on October 14, 2018 a new government with CSU.


In their substantive positions, the Free Voters are in the political centre. In doing so, they have no special closeness to any of the established parties, but represent, depending on the topic, some Classical Liberal (strengthening of civil and human rights, SME promotion, public budget discipline), some conservative (increase staff of the security forces, stricter border controls, more deportations of rejected asylum seekers and less family reunification for refugees in Germany, drug control, promoting local traditions and dialects[16]), partly social liberal (state General interest, equal opportunities in education, housing promotion) or ecologically-alternative goals (energy policy, water management).[17] This has often brought the Free Voters the reproach of arbitrariness or populism;[18] they themselves justify their lack of a clear position in the party landscape by the need to operate a pragmatic policy beyond ideological determinations.[19] They therefore emphasize their interest in cross-party cooperation[20] and demand no closed voting behavior from their representatives in the Bavarian state parliament, according to their own statements (parliamentary discipline).[21]

Priority areas in Bavarian state policy since 2008 were the education and university policy (abolition of tuition fees and the extension of high school to nine years (abolition of the G8, or eight-year high school)), the promotion of renewable energies, the opposition against major projects (third runway of Munich Airport, deepening of the Danube river for navigation, second main line of the S-Bahn Munich). Profile-forming positions of the Free Voters have developed in the fields of municipal, education and energy policy. The positions can be viewed, for example, in thematic papers of the state parliament group[22] or in the guidelines of the party for the state election of 2013.[23]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Er nervt Söder - und kann ihn retten, Der Spiegel from 12 October 2018
  2. ^ Wer sind die Freien Wähler? Sie wollen mit der CSU in Bayern regieren, Münchner Merkur from 15 October 2018
  3. ^ Freie Wähler streben an die Macht, Hamburger Abendblatt from 15 October 2018
  4. ^ Wer sind die Freien Wähler – und was wollen sie erreichen?, Die Zeit from 16 October 2018
  5. ^ "Freie Wähler fordern mehr Demokratie". 2017-01-06. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  6. ^ Organisation of the association and the party
  7. ^ Satzung FW-Landesverband Bayern
  8. ^ Statistisches Landesamt Bayern Kommunalwahlen in Bayern am 2. March 2008
  9. ^ § 23 -24 LWG (Gesetz über Landtagswahl, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid in der Fassung der Bekanntmachung vom 5. Juli 2002
  10. ^ Satzung der Landesvereinigung FREIE WÄHLER Bayern e. 
  11. ^ Satzung der organisierten Wählergruppe (PDF; 414 kB) "FW Freie Wähler Bayern e. 
  12. ^ Abgrenzung siehe Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung: Wegbeschreibung für die kommunale Praxis.
  13. ^ HNAl.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Ulrich Eith: Ideologiefreie Sachpolitik oder populistischer Protest?
  16. ^ "Bavaria's Free Voters — What you need to know".
  17. ^ Vgl. die Analyse der Positionen des Bundesverbandes der Freien Wähler bei Ulrich Eith: Ideologiefreie Sachpolitik oder populistischer Protest?
  18. ^ Für die Freien Wähler im Allgemeinen Torben Lütjen: Jenseits der Parteilichkeit?
  19. ^ Oskar Niedermayer: Bundesvereinigung FREIE WÄHLER.
  20. ^
  21. ^ So Fraktionsmitglied Karl Vetter: Vetter über Demokratie, 14.
  22. ^ Positionen
  23. ^ Leitlinien der Landesvereinigung zur Landtagswahl 2013 (PDF; 440 kB)