Discontinuity principle

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The discontinuity principle describes the factual, personal and organizational (institutional) renewal after the end of a legislative period . As rule for a time, democracy is subject to an equally limited expression of the people's will. With new elections, the replaced legislature loses its legitimacy and the parliament interrupts its action processes. The application of the discontinuity principle is common in many national parliaments . In Germany , too , the principle of discontinuity applies to the Bundestag .

Discontinuity in Germany

The factual discontinuity means that legislative proposals that have not been passed within a legislative period are automatically dealt with after this period has expired. If the project is to continue to be implemented, the legislative process - starting with the legislative initiative - must start again in the following legislative period.

In the case of the Bundestag, the personal discontinuity means that a new Bundestag will convene after the Bundestag election and the previous MPs will lose their mandate . Since the democratic legitimation of the parliament by the people only applies for one legislative period, the newly elected Bundestag has no obligations towards its predecessor.

The organizational (institutional) discontinuity affects organs and subdivisions of the Bundestag. These groups, such as parliamentary groups , committees or the study commissions , each only exist for one legislative period and must also be newly formed by the newly elected Bundestag.

Discontinuity in the EU

At the level of the European Union , the factual discontinuity principle does not actually exist. According to Art. 214 (1) of the European Parliament's Rules of Procedure , all unfinished business of Parliament are considered to have lapsed at the end of the last part-session before the next elections. However, since the European Parliament has no fundamental formal powers of initiative, it cannot terminate ongoing legislative procedures. So that the provision of the Rules exceeds probably the self-organization right out of Art. 199 para. 1 of the EC Treaty .

Legislative initiatives thus remain valid even after the new election of the European Parliament or a change in the European Commission . As a result, the legislative bodies (the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers ) sometimes have to deal with legislative initiatives that are more than ten years old. This fact is criticized by constitutional lawyers like Roman Herzog . You see the discontinuity principle as a subsidiarity watchdog , which could put a stop to the ongoing increase in competence of the EU.

See also : Democratic deficit of the European Union


“At the end of the Bundestag's electoral term, all proposals are considered to have been dealt with. This does not apply to petitions and proposals that do not require a resolution. "

- From the rules of procedure of the German Bundestag (15th electoral term, § 125)

"At the end of the electoral period, all bills, other bills, motions and reports, large and small inquiries that have not yet been answered, requests for information and oral questions that have not been dealt with by the state parliament are considered to be dealt with."

- From the rules of procedure of the Hessian state parliament (16th electoral period, § 116 para. 1)

“(1) At the end of the last part-session before the next elections, subject to paragraph 2, all unfinished business of Parliament shall be deemed to have expired.

(2) At the beginning of each electoral term, the Conference of Presidents shall decide on the reasoned motions of the parliamentary committees and the other organs to start over or continue the examination of unfinished business. "

- From the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament (16th edition - October 2008, Art. 203)

Literature and Sources