Direct election is the designation for an election to a (mostly political) office in direct election by the eligible voters and not by a parliament or an electoral committee .
In the concrete example of the election of the members of a parliament, direct election refers to the election of an individual member (per constituency ) in contrast to a list election , in which primarily election lists proposed by the parties and not individual persons are elected. Mandates that are based on direct elections in this sense are called direct mandates . However, the immediacy of the election is not impaired (for example under German law) even in the case of a list election if the applicants on the lists and their order are known before the election or are determined by the voters.
In the early 19th century, parliaments were set up in many states, the members of which are mostly elected indirectly. This means that the citizen entitled to vote was a primary voter. The primary voters in their constituency or in their electoral class elected an elector . Only this elector or a group of electorates determined the representative. The USA still has such an electoral system today .
The indirect choice is seen as a kind of security level. A voter sometimes has to meet higher requirements, for example a higher minimum age or a higher tax burden than the primary voters. From a democratic point of view, such a social filter can be criticized. The direct election of parliaments in Germany in Art. 28 para. 1 for country, county and municipal elections and in Art. 38 para. 1 required by the Basic Law (GG) for federal elections. On the other hand, the German Federal Chancellor is not elected directly, but by parliament according to Article 63.1 of the Basic Law, as is the German Federal President according to Article 54.1, sentence 1 of the Basic Law by the Federal Assembly .
A major change occurred for the municipalities in Germany and Austria when most federal states introduced direct elections for the mayor in the 1990s . It means a stronger position of the community board, but this can be restricted by special community regulations (for example in Hesse ). According to the constitutions, direct elections serve to streamline the municipal administration and, above all , to bring the mayor closer to the citizen , but if the majority situation is unclear (see cohabitation ), as often occurs after a runoff election, it can lead to problems and the mayor's ability to act less.
- ↑ J. Bogumil, D. Gehne, L. Holtkamp: Mayors and municipal regulations in performance comparison ( Memento of February 2, 2014 in the Internet Archive ). Information for council and administration, issue 10/2003, p. 339.