In connection with representative democracies, a mandate (from Latin ex manu datum “given out of hand”) is understood to be the mandate of political representation that the electorate gives to a member of a legislative body or a municipal representative body . The members of the committees concerned are accordingly called “mandated persons”, in Austria also “ mandataries ”; Another common term is “ MPs ”. The responsibility or the bundle of powers that the electorate grants the holder of an executive function is not referred to as a mandate, but as an office . Different schools of thought see a separation of office and mandate as desirable.
A distinction is made between the "free" and the "imperative" mandate: A free mandate does not bind the mandate to any specific orders or instructions. An imperative mandate , on the other hand, requires the mandate to move within a fixed framework. An election to one of the national, regional and local parliaments in Germany or Austria or to the European Parliament goes hand in hand with a free mandate: The MP is therefore only subject to his or her conscience when making decisions. The so-called parliamentary group obligation , which is often discussed in connection with the above-mentioned bodies , does not exist. However, the free mandate in parliamentary practice is restricted by a parliamentary group discipline. This means that the minority, which is defeated in the parliamentary group's votes, bows to the parliamentary group's majority and votes in the same way.
In Germany, for example, freedom of mandate is guaranteed by Article 38 (1) sentence 2 of the Basic Law (GG) . Membership in one of the named bodies is also only dependent on the election itself, not on membership in a specific political party , parliamentary group or other group. Members of the German or Austrian parliaments or the European Parliament can, for example, leave their party, change parliamentary groups or even take part in the founding of a new parliamentary group without their mandate expiring.
In Germany, an overhang mandate is understood to mean those seats of a party in the Bundestag , a state parliament or district council or a municipal council that exceeds the number of seats that it would be entitled to based on the proportion of (second) votes obtained in an election result in the first votes ( direct mandate ). The elected works council also has a mandate in a similar sense . This is not bound by instructions from the workforce or by resolutions of the works meeting. There is also no compulsory binding of the works council to trade unions , only cooperation with the trade unions represented in the company is required.
Simultaneous membership in several parliaments is referred to as a double mandate .