Landtag of Brandenburg
Landtag of Brandenburg
Ulrike Liedtke (SPD)
|1 September 2019|
|2024 Brandenburg state election|
|City Palace, Potsdam|
It is responsible for deciding on state laws, controlling the state government and public administration, deciding on the budget and electing its presidium, state constitutional judges, the members of the state court of audit and the minister president.
On 1 September 2019 elections to the 7th Landtag were held. Six political parties managed to gain representation. The SPD became the largest party in the Landtag with 25 seats, followed by the AfD with 23 seats, the CDU with 15 seats, The Greens and the Left with 10 seats each and finally the BVB/FW won 5 seats, making it the smallest party represented in the Landtag.
Elections to the 1st Landtag of Brandenburg were held in 1946 in the Soviet Occupation Zone. The composition of the 2nd Landtag was determined before the 1950 election. This Landtag only continued to exist until 1952. It has existed in its current form since the recreation of the state of Brandenburg following reunification. Since the 1990 election the SPD has remained the largest party and participated in all state governments since and all minister presidents of the state to this day have been from the SPD. The office has been held by Dietmar Woidke since 28 August 2013.
The Landtag of Brandenburg was established in 1946 and abolished in 1952. It was re-established in 1990. The seat of the Parliament is the reconstructed Potsdam City Palace since early 2014. Its former seat was the Military School building on the Brauhausberg, Potsdam, which dates from 1902.
Elections to the Landtag use a hybrid system whereby the 44 electoral districts return one member each in first-past-the-post votes, and 44 seats are elected by party-list proportional representation. Every German citizen who has been habitually resident in Brandenburg for at least one month prior to the election is entitled to vote.
Each elector has two votes, one for the individual representative of their electoral district and the other for a party list. The proportionally allocated seats are distribruted proportionally based on votes across the state to all parties or political unions on the list that received at least 5% of the vote in a constituency or who have won one or more directly elected seats.
Candidates are required to be over 18 years old, be a citizen of Germany and have lived in the state of Brandenburg for 3 months.
Elections are held every five years, on a Sunday or public holiday between 57 and 60 months after the start of the first legislative period after the previous election.
The most recent election was held on 1 September 2019 and the next elections will be held in 2024. The legislature may be dissolved sooner by a two thirds majority vote, if this happens new elections must be held within 70 days.
One of the functions of the Landtag is to pass state laws. Legislation can be proposed by the state government, MPs, the president of the Landtag, the presidium of the Landtag, parliamentary committees and their parliamentary groups, though it is usually the government that proposes new legislation. Proposed legislation can also be submitted through a popular initiative, assuming it is signed by at least 80,000 voting age Brandenburgian citizens. The Landtag is then obligated to treat this initiative just like it would one originating from the state government or its own members. If it fails to do this within two months a referendum is called.
Before being voted on, new legislation is subject to two readings. In the first reading a broad strokes debate regarding the proposal is held. Then it is transferred to one or more parliamentary committees. If multiple committees are involved, one of them largely holds responsibility. In the committees the proposal is reworked and a recommendation given. It is then subject to a second reading, where the proposal is discussed in detail and at the end of which the proposal is voted on. Until the second reading is complete, amendments can be proposed by parliamentary groups or individual members and are voted on be for the proposal is. Proposals are passed with a majority of the members present and voting. Constitutional amendments require a 2/3 majority to pass.
Proposals changing the text of the constitution and the budget are discussed in three readings. A third reading is also held if a parliamentary group or at least 1/5 of MPs request it. For laws to come into force they need to be signed by the president of the Landtag and published in the Gesetz- und Verordnungsblatt für das Land Brandenburg ('law and decree gazette for the state of Brandenburg').
Article 101 §3 of the state's constitution grants the Landtag of Brandenburg budgeting powers. According to constitution the budget can be set for one of more years. The budget is prepared by the state government setting the priorities for the next year (or years). The members of the Landtag function have a control function which has the character of a "general review of the work of the state government". They are tasked with checking, changing and approving the proposed budget. Every year the minister of finance reports to the Landtag the usage of funds along with state assets and debt. The entire budgetary and economic management of the state and its special assets and businesses are checked by the state court of audit.
Additionally the Landtag is tasked with parliamentary control, i.e. the control of the activities of the government and the public administration. This control is implemented through checks, complaints and toleration of state action both after the fact and by formulating recommendations before the fact. Conflicts commonly occur between the government and the parliamentary groups supporting or opposing the government instead of the Landtag as a whole.
Right of members to speak and ask questions
There are various ways for the Landtag to control the state government and public administration. One of them is the right of MPs to speak and ask questions. Every representative has the right to speak and submit enquiries and law proposals in order to receive information on states of affaires the state government is responsible for handling. According to the state constitution the government is obligated to respond to enquiries immediately to the best of its knowledge and must give a complete answer which means that compared to the basic law and the other German states' constitutions information rights are stronger here. According to parliamentary procedure the right to answer questions includes major, minor, spoken and urgent enquiries. Major enquiries usually concern statewide problems or technical matters of superregional and particular political importance usually with the purpose of general political control of the government. Such an enquiry can be initiated by a parliamentary group or at least 1/5 of MPs. A written response must be given within three months. Minor enquiries usually concern specific events or specific policies by the government or public administration. They can be initiated by any MP in written form and must be responded to within four weeks.
Spoken and urgent enquiries have the purpose that representatives can demand statements by the government on specific issues in plenary meetings i.e. in the presence of the general public. Spoken enquiries can be initiated by any MP. Urgent enquiries can be initiated with after a shorter than usual waiting period and have the purpose of elucidating politically contentious issues. They must be approved by the president of the Landtag in accordance with the vice-presidents.
The state constitution requires the state government to inform the Landtag and parliamentary committees early and completely of the preparation of laws regarding specific issues. This includes laws and decrees regarding fundamental questions of regional and location planning and the implementation of major projects. This duty also extends to participation of the state in the Bundesrat and cooperation with the federal government, other German and sovereign states and the European Union.
Committee of inquiry
The Landtag has the right to install a committee of inquiry to elucidate matters of public interest. The Landtag must be informed of the results of the investigation in form of a final report. Additionally every member of the committee has the right to append the report with a dissenting opinion. In the third legislative period three committees of inquiry were established dealing with the Berlin Schönefeld Airport, the Landesentwicklungsgesellschaft (LEG) and Chipfabrik Frankfurt (Oder) respectively. The committee of inquiry 4/1 created by a resolution on 27 February 2008 investigated the land reform affaire uncovered in late 2007. On 26 April 2016 the Landtag installed a committee of inquiry (6/1) about the "organized far-right extremist violence and administrative action, especially regarding the National Socialist Underground (NSU)".
Parliamentary control commission
In matters regarding constitutional protection the state government is subject to the control of the parliamentary control commission (PKK) which consists of at most 5 representatives. The opposition must be fairly represented on the commission. The state government must inform the PKK of the general activities of the office for constitutional protection, affaires of special importance along with isolated incidents. Additionally the PKK also has various information rights so it can get the information required for it to fulfill its control functions.
The G10-commission named after article 10 of the basic law is the final control institution. The G10-commission is tasked with checking the restrictions of the liberal democratic basic order ordered by the interior ministry. The interior ministry is required to inform the commission of such restrictions e.g. telephone tapping.
Another important function of the Landtag is the election of the minister president of the state of Brandenburg. In the lead-up to the inaugural meeting a potential governing coalition is usually agreed upon that can elect its candidate without a debate and on a secret ballot. Every representative has the right to propose a candidate. It is also possible for a person to be proposed who is not a member of the Landtag. If the proposed candidate does not get an absolute majority in the first round, a second vote is held. If they once again don't receive an absolute majority, a third round is held where a simple majority of representatives is enough. If a minister president is not elected within the three weeks after the inaugural meeting, the Landtag is automatically dissolved and reelections are held.
After the minister president has sworn their oath, they take control of government affairs and appoint the cabinet. The minister president forms a cabinet by handing the future ministers their certificate of appointment. They likewise swear an oath. During the allocation of portfolios, the setting of political focus of the respective partners plays a crucial role, because certain policy areas are associated with certain parties, leading to them desiring responsibility for the respective portfolios. The head of government (i.e. the minister president) sets the guidelines and answers to the Landtag regarding these guidelines. Within the confines set by the minister president, the ministers lead their ministries independently. In general, the minister president's term ends with the start of the new Landtag though it can also be cut short by a vote of no confidence.
The Landtag also elects the members of the state court of audit, the members of the state constitutional court, the 'state commissioner for data protection and the right of access to documents' along with the members of the G10-commission, the parliamentary control commission, the council for sorbian matters, the electoral committee for the election of judges (Richterwahlausschuss) in addition to the representatives of the Landtag in the state youth welfare committee and the broadcasting council of the RBB.
Organization of representatives
The president of the Landtag presides over and represents the Landtag. He is the highest representative of the state of brandenburg and thus is the one who receives both foreign and national state guests. The Landtag elects the president of the Landtag from among its members during its first session. The largest parliamentary group has the right of proposal (article 69 §1 of the state constitution of Brandenburg). However the president is supposed to be neutral in the exercise of their duties including towards their own party group. The president can be removed with a 2/3 majority.
The president calls the meetings of both the Landtag and the presidium both of which they open, preside over and end. Meetings can also be called if 1/5 of members or the government requests it. In the Landtag the president exercises the domicilary right and command over the police. Additionally the president approves topics of discussion in accordance with the rules of procedure, controls the printing and distribution of documents and accepts inquiries and proposals with have to be submitted to the president of the Landtag. In the legislative process a law only comes into force when it has been signed by the president. If the president of the Landtag is not present, their duties are performed by the vice-presidents. If they are also not present, the president of the Landtag is represented by a member of the presidium belonging to the largest parliamentary group. In the fifth legislative period Gunter Frisch (SPD) held the office, which he had also held during the fourth legislative period. The office of vice-president was held by Gerrit Große during the fifth legislative period from December 2009 onwards after Gerlinde Strobawa (They were both members of The Left) had resigned in November 2009. In the sixth legislative period the office of president of the landtag was held by Britta Stark (SPD) and the office of vice-president by Dieter Dombrowski (CDU). In the current seventh legislative period Ulrieke Liedtke (SPD) has been president of the Landtag since September 2019. The vice-presidents are Andreas Galau (AfD) and Barbara Richstein (CDU).
The remaining members of the presidium are elected in the constituting session like the president and vice-presidents. Each parliamentary group represented in the Landtag has the right to at least one member on the presidium. The presidium supports the president in the exercise of their duties, facilitates agreements between parliamentary groups and decides the schedule and agenda of plenary meetings. The members of the presidium can, like the president, be removed by a 2/3 majority.
The results of the 2019 Landtag elections were as follows:
|Social Democratic Party (SPD)||Social democracy||331,238||26.2%||5.7%||25||5||28.4%|
|Alternative for Germany (AfD)||German nationalism||297,484||23.5%||11.3%||23||12||26.1%|
|Christian Democratic Union (CDU)||Christian democracy||196,988||15.6%||7.4%||15||6||17.0%|
|Alliance '90/The Greens (Grünen)||Green politics||136,364||10.8%||4.6%||10||4||11.4%|
|The Left (Die Linke)||Democratic socialism||135,558||10.7%||7.9%||10||7||11.4%|
|Brandenburger Vereinigte Bürgerbewegungen/Freie Wähler (BVB/Freie Wähler)||Direct democracy||63,851||5.0%||2.3%||5||2||5.7%|
|Free Democratic Party (FDP)||Liberalism||51,660||4.1%||2.6%||0||0||0%|
|Human Environment Animal Protection (Tierschutzpartei)||Animalism||32,959||2.6%||2.6%||0||0||0%|
|Pirate Party Germany (Piraten)||8,712||0.7%||0.8%||0||0||0%|
|Blank and invalid votes||15,789||1.2|
|Registered voters / turnout||2,088,592||61.3|
Presidents of the Landtag of Brandenburg
|Friedrich Ebert (junior)||22 November 1946 – 1949||SED|
|Otto Meier||February 1949 – 1952||SED|
|Herbert Knoblich||26 October 1990 – 13 October 2004||SPD|
|Gunter Fritsch||13 October 2004 – 2014||SPD|
|Britta Stark||8 October 2014 – 2019||SPD|
|Ulrike Liedtke||25 September 2019 – present||SPD|
- List of Electoral Districts in the Landtag of Brandenburg
- 1999 Brandenburg state election
- 2004 Brandenburg state election
- 2009 Brandenburg state election
- 2014 Brandenburg state election
- 2019 Brandenburg state election
- "Elections – Landtag Brandenburg". www.landtag.brandenburg.de. Redaktion des Landtages Brandenburg. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- "Elections". Welcome to Parliament. Landtag Brandenburg. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
- "Article 62 (Legislative term, new elections)". Constitution of the Land of Brandenburg (PDF). Landtag Brandenburg. 2015.
(2) The Landtag may dissolve itself by a resolution of a majority of two thirds of its members.
(3) If the Landtag is dissolved, new elections shall be held within seventy days.
- Präsident des Landtages Brandenburg, 2007, 147.
- Präsident des Landtages Brandenburg, 2007, 148.
- Präsident des Landtages Brandenburg, 2007, 153.
- Präsident des Landtages Brandenburg, 2007, 150.
- Lübker/Schüttemeyer, 2004, 161.
- Präsident des Landtages Brandenburg, 2007, 151.
- Präsident des Landtages Brandenburg, 2007, 152.
- Präsident des Landtages Brandenburg, 2007, 159.
- Präsident des Landtages Brandenburg, 2007, 165.
- Präsident des Landtages Brandenburg, 2007, 166.
- Präsident des Landtages Brandenburg, 2007, 167.
- Official Web site of Landtag Brandenburg (in German)