Faction discipline

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As fraction discipline (in Austria club discipline ) the extent referred to, in which the members of a parliamentary fraction showing a single vote. As a synonym with negative connotations , the term fraction compulsion ( club compulsion ) is often used. He emphasizes the pressure that individual members of parliament are exposed to from the group leadership and other group members to defer their own positions in favor of the group's point of view. From a party perspective, on the other hand, the term group solidarity is often used, which underlines the common interest of the group members in a united appearance towards the other parties.

The parliamentary group requirement is unconstitutional in Germany , Austria , Switzerland and many other countries because it violates the principle of free mandate . In Germany, the Basic Law states in Article 38, Paragraph 1, Clause 2 that MPs are not bound by orders and instructions and are only subject to their conscience. Nonetheless, MEPs adhere to the guidelines of their group leaders for a large part of the votes in parliament. In a party democracy, there is always an indirect compulsory parliamentary group, since a party can threaten or exercise sanctions, for example by not supporting the re-election of a “ deviator ”.

With the justification of strengthening "decision-making in the Bundestag", the coalition agreement of the grand coalition of CDU, CSU and SPD of 2018 stipulated in writing that the coalition factions "[i] in the Bundestag and in all the committees sent by it [...] uniformly" vote that "changing majorities" are "excluded". The official declaration of the vote on “ marriage for all ” in the summer of 2017, when Chancellor Merkel's decision of conscience, which is a matter of course in accordance with Article 38 of the Basic Law, was expressly declared a question of conscience in advance. For example, the Tagesschau reported that “the Union parliamentary group” had declared “the vote on a question of conscience during its meeting today”. This eliminates "the faction obligation in the Bundestag, which is to bind MPs to the line of the party leadership".


Today it is predominantly assumed that a certain parliamentary group discipline is necessary for a parliamentary system of government in order to guarantee the necessary stability and reliability in decision-making. The reasons given for the faction discipline are:

  • Each party has to rely on its MPs in order to assert its interests, and conversely, the party's MPs in the election campaign are mostly dependent on the support of the party. In addition, voters usually expect a clear profile of the party for their voting decision, which can only be achieved through an essentially uniform voting behavior.
  • If MPs do not adhere to their party's program (or, in the case of coalition governments, not to the coalition program ), these decision-making packages are unwound again. This is seen as problematic, because with the majority principle, by bundling the individual points in a program, different degrees of consternation of the voters by the individual decisions can be better taken into account.
  • No MP can have sufficient expertise in all specialist subjects and must therefore orientate himself on the opinions of others. For example, a parliamentary group member can significantly shape the group's opinion in some areas, while in other areas he can rely on the fact that the group's decisions are made by specialized experts on the basis of well-founded arguments.
  • Without parliamentary party discipline, the government's ability to work would be severely restricted, as dissenters from its own parliamentary group and the opposition (whose MPs believe that the government must be replaced) would block the legislation.
  • It may well be a decision of conscience to agree to laws that do not correspond to one's own convictions, since alternatives (change of government) or the support of the parliamentary group on another issue are more important. Internal party discussions, which are made public by many voters who deviate from the parliamentary group majority, can lead to the party being perceived as divided and divided. Some see such an image as the reason for poor election results.

Differences in different parliaments

Depending on the political system and culture , parliamentary group discipline can be different in different countries. For example, in states with proportional representation, the role of the parties in the election campaign is much more important than in states with majority voting . By drawing up electoral lists , the parties have a greater influence on the candidacies and thus an effective sanction instrument. At the same time, candidates are often perceived by voters primarily as members of their party; they are therefore expected to implement their program after their election.

In purely majority voting systems , such as those common in Great Britain and the USA , on the other hand, the individual personality of the constituency candidates is more at the center of election campaigns; Prominent individual politicians are therefore less dependent on the support of their party and are more often interested in making a name for themselves against the party line in their home constituencies. In order to ensure that the parliamentary groups vote in a uniform manner, the Whip plays an important role in Great Britain , who exerts pressure on individual parliamentarians in line with the party line. Exclusions from parties and parliamentary groups as a result of deviating voting behavior are relatively easy to implement here - compared to Germany , for example . In presidential systems like the United States, where campaign funding is often disputed by the MPs themselves and not by the parties, the influence of the Whips is less and parliamentary group discipline is also less overall. The resulting loss of political stability in parliament is compensated for in the US political system by the relatively strong executive branch .


In the Federal Republic of Germany , the members of the Bundestag are, according to Article 38, Paragraph 1, Clause 2 of the Basic Law “representatives of the whole people, not bound by orders and instructions and only subject to their conscience” . In reality, however, the German Bundestag is also dominated by parties and parliamentary groups. A parliamentary group in the Bundestag definitely has possibilities ( social control , prevention of the re-election of a member of parliament, reference to possible consequences for other issues, external representation of the party) to induce members to vote in accordance with the parliamentary group.

The parliamentary group usually votes on a decision beforehand (internally); Almost always all members of the group adhere to the result of this vote. Group discipline is not anchored in any law or rules of procedure; However, especially in the case of coalition governments, it is regularly laid down in the coalition agreements of German parties. Ensuring the uniform voting method is one of the tasks of the parliamentary manager of the parliamentary groups. If parliamentary group discipline cannot simply be enforced in the governing coalition, the Chancellor can combine a legislative vote with a vote of confidence in order to increase the pressure on the MPs.

A MEP has the right to leave his group at any time. Conversely, MPs can also be expelled from their parliamentary group if they behave in a way that is harmful to the faction; however, this decision is subject to stricter conditions and is open to legal action. A resigned or expelled MP retains his mandate and remains in parliament as a non-attached MP . In doing so, however, he loses certain rights that only members of a parliamentary group are entitled to.

The parliamentary group generally approves the votes in the case of so-called “decisions of conscience”, such as abortion , the extension of the statute of limitations for NS crimes, the debate on the legalization of pre- implantation diagnostics or decisions on organ donation .

European Parliament

In the European Parliament , whose political groups are made up of Europe-wide party alliances, group discipline was initially very weak. Although the seating arrangements have been based on the parliamentary groups and not on the national origin of the members of parliament since Parliament was founded, votes often took place along national borders. This was due, on the one hand, to the programmatic differences between the various national member parties of the parliamentary groups and, on the other hand, to the limited say in European politics that Parliament had overall: Individual parliamentarians were therefore able to deviate from the parliamentary group more often, since the result of the vote was ultimately anyway was of limited importance.

This changed, on the one hand, with the emergence of the European parties since the 1970s and, on the other hand, with the increased participation rights since the introduction of the codecision procedure in the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. Since the 1990s in particular, an increasing "professionalization" of the Parliament has set in, which has also been implemented expressed a higher group discipline. In the 2004–2009 legislative period, the members of the larger parliamentary groups voted in around 90% of all decisions in favor of their parliamentary group.
In 2018 the group " The Greens / European Free Alliance (EFA) " in the EU Parliament appeared most united in votes in the European Parliament (97%), followed by the progressive Social Democrats (S&D) (95%) and of the Group of the European People's Party and Christian Democrats (EPP) (94%).
The groups " European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) " (78%), " Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) " (75%) and " Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) " (55%) were against most quarreled and had the most dissenters. All three of the last-mentioned, most divided groups (ECR, ENF and EFDD) are right-wing populist and skeptical or critical of the EU .

An example of a case in which members of the European Parliament were pressured or threatened to agree to their group's decision (group coercion); was the vote on Article 13 of the planned EU ancillary copyright law:

“I know that several members of our committee have come under huge pressure to vote in favor of this particular proposal. The German CDU […] has been reportedly pressuring them […] there have been reports of threats of members not being allocated reports and parliamentary positions if, basically, they don't do as they are told. "

“I know that several members of our committee have been put under massive pressure to vote for this very proposal. The CDU [...] has reportedly put them under pressure [...] there have been reports of threats that MPs would not be assigned reports and parliamentary offices if, in the end, they did not find out. "

- anonymous member of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, quoted by Martin Banks : EUtoday.net on May 29, 2018 at 17:33

However, since there is still no division into government and opposition groups in the European Parliament, the majorities here are still more flexible and the group requirement is less than in most national parliaments. In addition, the European parties have no influence on the lists of candidates in the European elections . These are worked out by the individual national parties so that, in case of doubt, the MPs can be put under more pressure by them than by the pan-European umbrella party.


Already the first political clubs (parliamentary groups) in the Assemblée nationale of the French Revolution in 1791 and in Germany in the Frankfurt National Assembly in 1848/49 tried to increase the influence of their members on the parliament through a united voting behavior. However, these clubs were initially only very unstable connections, most of which had no organized membership and internal voting mechanisms. The internal coherence of the votes was therefore significantly lower.

With the emergence of modern parties , factional discipline gained in importance as a component of political decision-making. Marxist- oriented parties in particular often advocated the concept of an imperative mandate , through which the individual MPs should be bound to the will of the party and thus in turn to the will of the voters. In Germany, parliamentary group discipline was particularly enforced during the Bismarck Reich by the SPD , which thereby ensured its influence as the most important opposition party in the Reichstag . However, this consistent stance ultimately led to the split in the party as a result of the disagreements over the truce policy during the First World War . After a group of 18 MPs, led by party and parliamentary group chairman Hugo Haase, voted against the war credits demanded by the majority of the parliamentary group, they were expelled from the parliamentary group in 1916 and founded the USPD in 1917 .

In the Weimar Republic , the KPD in particular stood out for its strict parliamentary group pressure, in that it had its members sign blank templates for a waiver of their mandate , which they could use if they violated the party line. However, this practice has been declared unconstitutional.

See also


In the meantime, it was common in Austria that MPs had to submit a blank resignation request before taking office in order to better demand club discipline. It is unknown whether such “resignations” actually took place.


Web links

Wiktionary: Fractional discipline  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Otto Model; Carl Creifelds; Gerhard Zierl: Citizen paperback . Everything you need to know about Europe, the state, administration, law and economy with numerous diagrams . 30th edition. Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-46485-8 , pp. 137 .
  2. ^ Manfred G. Schmidt: The political system of Germany . Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn 2008, ISBN 978-3-89331-741-7 , p. 140 .
  3. A new departure for Europe. A new dynamic for Germany. A new cohesion for our country. Coalition agreement between the CDU, CSU and SPD. (PDF) In: bundesregierung.de. Press and Information Office of the Federal Government (BPA), 2018, accessed on June 30, 2019 .
  4. tagesschau.de June 27, 2017: Marriage for everyone in the Bundestag: Merkel declares voting on a question of conscience
  5. possibilities named e.g. B. Volker Kauder (CDU) in August 2015: FAZ.net August 10, 2015: Kauder's unsuccessful challenge
  6. CDU-CSU-SPD coalition agreement of December 16, 2013 (PDF; 1,649 kB) p. 128
  7. ^ Coalition agreement between the SPD and Greens of October 16, 2002 (PDF; 731 kB) p. 88
  8. Cohesion rates of the political groups in the European Parliament 2004-09. VoteWatch.eu (English).
  9. a b Cohesion rates of the political groups in the European Parliament 2018. VoteWatch.eu (English, fee-based). The figures / results can also be read without a paid pro account in a tweet from Votewatch on an attached image .
  10. The official website of EUtoday with the article and quote ( Memento of May 29, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) has been taken offline. Instead, an article was uploaded that is no longer critical . However, you can read the article and the quote on the website cached by Google on May 29th, 2018 at 5:33 pm and archived in archive.is .
  11. Stenographic Protocol Retrieved April 6, 2019