Minority voting rights

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Measures in the area of ​​the right to vote that are intended to enable national minorities to exert influence in political bodies can be described as minority suffrage . Related terms are ethnic group mandate and viril mandate .

Regulations on minority voting rights have been enshrined in law in a number of countries.

Positive special regulations include B.

  • guaranteed representation
  • predetermined quotation of seats
  • lower number of votes required per mandate than for non-minority parties.

Exceptions to rules that would otherwise make it difficult to enter parliament could be described as negative special regulations:

The positive special regulations ensure an advantage and also represent a constitutional conflict potential because they deviate from the principle of equal weight of all votes . However, negative measures do not remain undisputed either.

The issue also includes efforts to facilitate the representation of minorities without any special rules, e.g. B. the consideration in the division into constituencies or the maintenance of a high number of MPs, which facilitates the number of votes for the achievement of a mandate.

There is also the opposite, namely that the representation of an ethnic group is made more difficult.

Special regulations based on gender, religion, social class etc. do not differ in principle from minority voting rights, but are not dealt with here.


Danish ethnic group

The Danish minority in Schleswig-Holstein is politically represented by the South Schleswig Association of Voters (SSW).

Federal level

The SSW has been exempt from the 5 percent threshold in federal elections since 1953. In contrast to the state elections in Schleswig-Holstein, the exception does not explicitly apply to the Danish minority, but to all parties of national minorities (Section 6, Paragraph 3, Sentence 2 of the Federal Election Act).

From 1949 to 1953, the SSW was represented in the first German Bundestag by Hermann Clausen . The party has not run for elections since 1961, but re-participation in federal elections has been discussed since the 1990s, because the growing number of votes means that there is now another chance for a mandate. Party congresses have spoken out against this idea several times, while the current chairman, Flemming Meyer , advocates it.

State level

After negotiations on the Bonn-Copenhagen Declarations in 1955, the threshold clause was also lifted for the SSW in state elections.

The background to this is that the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament in 1951 under the leadership of the CDU Prime Minister Friedrich Wilhelm Lübke after the results of the state elections of 1950, in which the SSW still received almost 72,000 votes (in the first post-war election in 1947 it was almost 100,000 votes) , explicitly raised the threshold clause to 7.5% in order to exclude the SSW from the state parliament. The Federal Constitutional Court declared this increased threshold clause unconstitutional in 1952 ( BVerfGE 1, 208 ), so that the 5% clause again applied in the 1954 state elections. Nevertheless, the Danish minority was not represented in the state parliament from 1954, because in this election it was only able to unite around 42,000 votes (3.5%).

(See also: Bonn-Copenhagen Declarations: Exception from the five percent hurdle )

In 1997, with the new electoral law in Schleswig-Holstein, the right to vote for two votes was introduced for the first time, first applied in the state elections in 2000 . This means that the SSW can be elected anywhere in the country, although the Danish minority is only at home in the Schleswig part of the country and the SSW only places direct candidates here and conducts an active election campaign. The SSW itself voted against the new electoral law.

As a result of the new electoral system, the SSW's share of the votes in the relevant second votes by votes from Holstein doubled. For this reason, objections were raised against the fact that the SSW, as a minority representative in Schleswig, benefited from the privilege of being exempt from the threshold clause, and that it was abusing this privilege because it was eligible for election in Holstein. The Schleswig-Holstein Higher Administrative Court accordingly objected to the official election result and turned against the allocation of state parliament mandates to the SSW, since "the SSW ... today can no longer be regarded as a party of the Danish minority" and the "exemption for parties of the Danish minority since the introduction of the two-vote right to vote beyond what is necessary ” . The Federal Constitutional Court found, however, that the suspension and reference decision of the Schleswig-Holstein Higher Administrative Court did not meet the admissibility requirements, because the decision did not sufficiently deal with the potential constitutional violation - since before the change in the electoral system it was possible to have a nationwide possible until then The SSW could be elected and would now only become the rule.

During the formation of the government in 2005 , in which the SSW actively intervened in the formation of the government and declared its readiness to support the planned red-green minority government as a "reliable partner" , this discussion came up again, now with nationwide attention and sometimes with a sharper discussion tone it was now about the formation of a government under the so-called tolerance of the SSW, which was manifested between the three parties SPD, Greens and SSW in an agreement they called a tolerance agreement, in which the common goals in the fields of "work and social", "education, Culture and minorities "," Cross-border cooperation "," Finances, economy and transport policy "," Internal affairs and civil rights "as well as" Agriculture and environment "are defined and in particular concrete reform projects in the areas of the state constitution, the transformation of the school system into a comprehensive school according to Scandinavian standards Role model, local government reform, change the state media treaties, labor market policy, tuition fees, state policy between the northern German states and with Denmark, budget restructuring, transport projects for A20, A7, B5 etc., bank privatization and the expansion of nature conservation.

After the election, the SSW had assured itself with its own votes as well as those of its potential tolerance partners in order to be fully capable of governing and acting, so-called basic mandates, which are the basis for voting rights in the committees in which the important decisions are made - these basic mandates stood but according to the state parliament's rules of procedure, only parties with parliamentary groups are allowed. These basic mandates have since been withdrawn from the SSW with the votes of the grand coalition in Kiel. In addition, the SSW requested in advance z. B. also in areas such as education policy, in which the minority had always been granted special regulations beforehand, the nationwide adoption of his models. One of the main reasons for criticizing the SSW was to be the beneficiary of minority privileges on the one hand and to make politics for the majority in areas that do not affect the minority on the other.

(See also: SSW: Discussion after the 2005 state elections ) .

Municipal level

In local elections, the SSW was not exempt from the threshold clause, which was declared unconstitutional by the Federal Constitutional Court in 2008. Minority politicians saw the lack of exemption from the threshold clause as a problem, as it was important to be represented in the distribution of municipal attacks for cultural and social associations and activities. A new decision is made from year to year about their subsidies, so that minority-related work can easily become the subject of cost-cutting measures - a constantly recurring topic is e.g. B. the non-equality of the transport of pupils to Danish schools.

The SSW advocates regional reform in Schleswig-Holstein, in which communities are to be merged to a minimum size that corresponds to the current offices (5000 inhabitants); According to the SSW, this is about the efficiency of the administration and not about the absence of the SSW in small community councils. On the other hand, the SSW is strictly against territorial reform at the state level, in which z. B. Federal states such as Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg and Lower Saxony would be united and threatened with a fate similar to that of the SP in Denmark as a result of the dissolution of the Sønderjylland (Northern Schleswig) office in the new region of Syddanmark as part of the territorial reform.

In contrast to the situation in other federal states and in Denmark, where smaller parties can improve their chances of being represented by joining a list , this type of cooperation is not permitted in Schleswig-Holstein's local electoral law.

Sorbian ethnic group

The Sorbs are just like the Danish folk group from the 5 percent hurdle freed in federal elections since the rule applies to all national minorities. So far, however, no Sorbian party has stood for election.

State level

In Brandenburg the Lusatian Alliance is exempt from the threshold clause.

In Saxony, however, where twice as many Sorbs live as in Brandenburg, there is no exemption from the threshold clause.

Frisian ethnic group

Although the Frisians are recognized as a minority party at federal level, they are not exempt from the five percent hurdle at state level .

On January 28, 2016, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the five percent threshold does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Court stated that the party "Die Friesen" was not treated differently in the election than other small parties in Lower Saxony.

Denmark (German ethnic group)

The German ethnic group in North Schleswig is politically represented by the Schleswig Party (SP).

National level

In comparison to the situation south of the border, there is no explicit exception to the threshold clause for the Schleswig party. However, the Danish 2 percent hurdle only applies to the granting of the 40 nationwide compensation mandates (tillægsmandater) - the remaining 135 district mandates (kredsmandater) are issued in 17 electoral districts, 7 of which are in North Schleswig. For such a mandate, the Schleswig party would have to achieve a nationwide share of votes of approx. 0.35% (approx. 12,000 votes). That would correspond to around 8% of the votes in North Schleswig; in comparison, the party achieved only 4,417 votes in the 2001 election to the council.

According to a report by the University of Århus , however, the SP is virtually excluded from being represented in the Folketing by means of its own electoral list through a compensatory or district mandate, since the SP's electorate comes almost exclusively from the German ethnic group and not increasingly like those of the SSW outside the minority would be won.

The SP was represented in the Folketing until 1964 and entered the election with its own list until 1971. 1973-1979 you could send a member of the Folketing, who was elected from the list of the party Centrum-Demokraterne . From 1965, when the SP's number of votes was no longer sufficient for representation, the contact committee for the German minority was established at the Folketing as a link to parliament and government, which is now supplemented by a state-sponsored secretariat of the German minority in Copenhagen - but without any Powers and with only a purely representative function.

A privilege of the SP is the express exemption from collecting voter declarations when registering a list, which otherwise unrepresented parties have to submit before the start of the election according to the Folketing Election Act. A number of voter signatures would be required which would correspond to the number of votes in a normal mandate (currently 19,185, around 0.6% of the valid votes cast) - also more than potential voters of the SP.

In the applicable laws, the Schleswig party is not explicitly mentioned, but "the party of the German minority" ("det tyske mindretals parti"). However, a competitor or split never occurred. Although the Schleswig party has not run the Folketing elections since 1971, the list abbreviation S is still protected by the electoral law; this letter may not be assigned to any other party in either folk or local elections across the country.

Regional level

Since Denmark is not a federal state, an exact analogy to the state level in Germany cannot be made. The previous Danish offices, and even more so the new regions created with the territorial reform, act as an administrative level between the municipality and the Kingdom of Denmark, so that there is an electoral counterpart.

The previous office Sønderjylland (North Schleswig) is going on with the territorial reform of January 1st 2007 in the new region Syddanmark , one of 5 new regions. This region also includes the former offices of Ribe and Fyn as well as most of the Vejle district and has around 1.2 million inhabitants.

The first elections took place on November 15, 2005. Approx. 14,000 votes were required for one of the 41 seats in the regional council. The SP did not run for regional elections, but with the usual number of votes it would hardly have a chance of representation, except perhaps in the case of a list connection with other small parties. In the last elections for the district assembly in the North Schleswig Office in 2001, the Schleswig party achieved 4,417 votes and one mandate.

Within the new region, minority policy hardly plays a role anymore - non-minority-related issues such as transport, environment, health and social issues are the tasks of the regions. For this reason, the territorial reform met with strong criticism not only from the minority, who de facto no longer have the opportunity to be independently politically represented, and fears that they will no longer be within a region in which almost a quarter of the inhabitants of Denmark live to be noticed.

Municipal level

The regional reform of January 1, 2007 also unites the previous 23 North Schleswig municipalities into four large municipalities. In the elections in the large municipalities on November 15, 2005, which took place at the same time as the elections in the new regions, the SP was elected to three of the four new municipal parliaments of North Schleswig, namely in Tondern , Aabenraa and Sønderborg with one mandate each. In Hadersleben the number of votes was insufficient for a mandate; here the SP is only present through a special mandate without voting rights. For comparison, the party was represented in only five of the 23 old municipalities in the 2001 local elections, but with a higher weighting accordingly. Unlike the SSW in Germany, which advocates local government reform in Schleswig-Holstein, the SP u. a. therefore the previous structures in the former district of North Schleswig (Sønderjyllands Amt) favored, as decentralized political work in the manageable units was preferred for them.

There is no threshold clause in local elections in Denmark, but the seats are distributed through a pure D'Hondt procedure . However, the size of the body represents a de facto threshold; one of the 55 seats of the Copenhagen Citizens Council requires around 1.8% of the vote, while the island municipality of Læsø has a local council with only 9 seats, which means that a party has to get at least 11% of the vote to be represented. However, the typical size of municipal councils is between 19 and 31 seats. In the four North Schleswig municipalities, the size of the municipal representatives is set at a maximum of 31 in order to facilitate the representation of the German minority.

In the situation before the regional reform of 2007 , the Schleswig Party was not represented in many small communities and could not politically influence decisions that affected the minority. This was particularly true in the north of North Schleswig, where the minority is less strong. However, since grants in Denmark are not decided on from year to year and the current financial grants from Denmark are to be continued, there is at least a relative security against austerity measures. In Denmark, there are generally favorable regulations for private schools, which also provide the framework for the school system of the German minority. For example, in northern Schleswig, unlike the Danish minority in southern Schleswig, school transport is not a recurring problem.

Even without the obstacle of a threshold clause, it was feared that the larger municipalities could become a problem for the representation of the German ethnic group. After consultation, a decree was issued for North Schleswig to promote representation under the new local order. In the Folketing, Søren Krarup ( Danish People's Party ) campaigned particularly for this order; the party would have liked to introduce the same rules for the regional council (see above). The special regulation was inspired by the Slovak regulations in favor of the Hungarian minority . The rules are laid down in the Local Authority Act and in the decree promoting the representation of the German minority :

  • Main rule: A "special mandate" without voting rights is triggered if the minority party only receives 25% of the votes of a normal mandate. So if a normal mandate costs 3% of the vote, the SP would still move to town hall with 0.75%. The extraordinary mandate is officially called an "associate member" (tilforendet medlem) and has no voting rights, has full speaking and salary rights and receives a seat on a committee of one's own choosing. (Initially, the Federation of German Nordschleswiger wanted to trigger a full mandate for the minority when 25% of the votes of a normal mandate were obtained; this was however rejected by the local committee of the Folketing for reasons of proportionality).
  • If the minority party does not receive such an extraordinary mandate either, it is decreed that a special committee for minority affairs is established, provided that it still obtains 10% of the votes of a mandate; So with about 0.3% of the votes. The minority should be represented in this committee; The mayor would be the chairman.
  • In order to make representation easier in general, the four municipal representations in North Schleswig are as large as the municipal regulations allow, i.e. 31 members. This means that the hurdle for a mandate is only around 3% of the vote. Municipalities of the same size in the rest of Denmark have often opted for smaller municipal representations, whereby the hurdle for a mandate is correspondingly higher.
  • The decree guarantees that the size of the local council cannot be reduced again if the SP was elected in the last or penultimate election. This prevents you from increasing the costs of a mandate by restricting the number of seats. For comparison, the number of MPs in the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament was reduced from 75 to 69 in 2003 , a decision against which the SSW , FDP and the Greens protested.

Finally, as in the rest of the country, a list connection is also possible. Two or more parties can thereby improve their chances of being represented. The negative consequences of the D'Hondt trial , which favors the large parties, are also somewhat offset. The list connection must be registered in due time before the election and will be published. When counting, the alliance is initially considered to be one party, after which the seats obtained are distributed among the individual lists. Should the Schleswig party take part in such a list connection, but without winning a mandate, the above-mentioned path to a special mandate is still open. In Sønderborg, the SP managed to gain a normal mandate in the city parliament with just 2.0% of the votes, because the list alliance with Det Radikalische Venstre (1.4%) and Kristdemokraterne (0.4%) achieved a total of 3.8%. However, a debate was triggered when the SP MP Stephan Kleinschmidt was also elected chairman of the culture committee.


The parliament ( Wolesi Jirga ) consists of 249 seats, 68 of which are reserved for women and ten for the nomad minority of the Kuchi . The MPs are determined by direct election, with the number of seats in proportion to the population of the respective province. At least two women per province must be elected.


The Belgian Senate consists of 71 senators who are elected for a term of 4 years. 40 senators are directly elected by the electorate (divided into two electoral colleges: the French-speaking college elects 15 and the Dutch-speaking 25 senators). Twenty-one senators are appointed by the parliaments of the various communities (ten each by the Parlement de la Communauté française and the Vlaams Parlement and one by the parliament of the German-speaking community ) and therefore have a double mandate. The remaining ten senators are co-opted by the directly elected senators and the community senators (four by the French-speaking senators and six by the Dutch-speaking senators).

In the Brussels-Capital Region , the government consists of a Prime Minister and four ministers, two from each language community. The Brussels regional parliament has 89 seats, 72 for French speakers and 17 seats for Dutch speakers. Both language groups have a right of veto over linguistic and institutional matters (as in the Belgian parliament).


Two members of Lok Sabha ( House of the People ) can be appointed by the President of India to properly represent the Anglo-Indian community.


The religious minorities of the Jews and the Zoroastrians receive one seat each . The four Christian groups in the country are each entitled to a seat in parliament.

Italy (South Tyrol / Trentino)


Each candidate for the South Tyrolean state parliament on the list must declare or assign themselves to the German, Italian or Ladin language group. These declarations of language group membership are important for the determination of at least one Ladin representative in the state parliament and for the composition of the state government, for which a language group proportion applies and thus the de facto German-speaking South Tyrolean People's Party must always look for an Italian-speaking coalition partner.


In the election for the Trentino Landtag , a seat must be allocated to the Ladin-speaking minority.


The parliament consists of the House of Representatives with 110 members elected for four years (9 seats reserved for Christians, 3 for Circassians and 6 for women) and the House of Notables with 40 members who are appointed by the king for eight years.


The parliament (Sabor) in Croatia is a unicameral parliament and has 151 members. The second chamber, the House of Counties [croat. Županski Dom], was abolished in March 2000. The representatives are elected according to proportional representation with a 5 percent clause based on individual constituencies and with a special constituency for Croatians abroad. In addition, the national minorities have eight members in parliament. Members of the minorities can either vote normally for one of the majority parties or, alternatively, on the respective list for a representative of their minority. The seats determined by voting are distributed as follows: three for Serbs, one for Italians , one for Hungarians , one for Czechs and Slovaks , one for Slovenes , Bosniaks , Montenegrins , Macedonians and Albanians and one for other minorities ( Germans , Ukrainians and Ruthenians , Romanians , Russians , Turks , Jews , Roma , Poles ...).


Since the Taif Agreement, the distribution of seats in parliament has been based on the principle of denominational parity.

The four highest government offices are reserved for members of certain religious groups:


There is a general three percent hurdle that drops to 0.7 percent for parties that represent minorities, which make up a maximum of 15% of the population in the relevant area. For the Croatian minority, if no list of the population exceeds the 0.7% threshold, the list with the most votes will win a place if it receives more than 0.35% of the vote.


The Mauritius Parliament consists of a minimum of 62 and a maximum of 70 members. These are elected every five years in the 21 “constituencies” called districts, each district has three members with the exception of Rodrigues , who has two. The remaining eight are the “best losers” of all districts, which must belong to certain ethnic groups that are underrepresented in the “normal” election results. The usefulness of the best-loser system, which is based on a census from the 1970s, is controversial and could be canceled in the course of a discussed electoral reform.

New Zealand

Some seats in the New Zealand Parliament are specially reserved for Māori MPs. At the same time, Māori can also choose to vote on the other seats or to run for them. Some Māori representatives have also entered parliament in this way.


The representation of the Carinthian Slovenes in the Carinthian Landtag and the Burgenland-Croatian and Hungarian minorities in the Burgenland Landtag is not regulated and is politically controversial.


The National Assembly has 342 members, 272 of which are directly elected by the people for five years according to majority voting. All citizens over the age of 18 are entitled to vote. Sixty seats in parliament are reserved for women and ten more for representatives of religious minorities. The reserved seats are distributed among the parties represented in the National Assembly according to their share of the vote.

Palestinian Authority

Before the electoral system was converted to a proportional representation system, 66 of the 132 seats on the Palestinian Legislative Council were each determined by two very different procedures. Each eligible voter voted for both procedures simultaneously, but separately. Half of the mandates were awarded by simple proportional representation with a 2 percent threshold. The remaining 66 seats were awarded by majority vote across 16 constituencies. Each of these constituencies sent one to nine members to the Legislative Council, depending on its population size. A special feature was that in four constituencies one or two seats were reserved for candidates from the Christian minority and one for the Samaritans .

Poland (German)

According to official censuses, the German minority in Poland counts 153,000 people (0.4% of the total population), concentrated in the Opole Voivodeship ( Silesia ) with 10% of the population. The Social-Cultural Society of Germans , however, estimates the number of Germans in the Opole Voivodeship alone at 250,000.

With the German-Polish Neighborhood Treaty of 1991, the German ethnic group was guaranteed full rights as a national minority according to the CSCE standard, and representation in the Polish Parliament ( Sejm ) was made possible. Since 1993, elections to the Sejm have been subject to a 5 percent clause; Members of the officially recognized ethnic minorities are excluded from the rule (currently only the German minority in Poland).

The Association of German Social-Cultural Societies in Poland has been represented in the Sejm since 1991. In the 2007 election, the list of the German minority achieved 0.20% and a seat in the 460-seat parliament.

In some communities (so Gogolin ) the German minority provides the mayor or mayor, in two districts (as in Groß Strehlitz ) they have an absolute majority.


Parties that represent national minorities have the right to a seat, regardless of the number of votes. This currently includes 17 members of parliament from small national minorities who support the government in parliament but do not belong to the government.

Since the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania has so far passed the 5 percent hurdle in every election, it has its own seats in parliament.

The Democratic Union of Turkish Muslim Tatars in Romania did not take part in the 2016 general election .


Ethnic minority parties do not have to exceed the 5 percent threshold to win a seat in parliament. However, they must reach at least 0.4%.


The National Assembly consists of 90 members, some of whom are elected by direct election or proportional suffrage. The autonomous minorities of the Italians and the 8,000 Hungarians have a guaranteed ethnic group mandate. These ethnic group representatives have an absolute right of veto on issues that exclusively concern the respective rights of the minority .


The National Assembly consists of 167 members, three of which are intended for the indigenous population.


Since 2014, the voters of the national minorities in Hungary can vote on the nationality lists. The minorities can thus receive a preferential mandate if they reach a quarter of the ninety-third part of the list votes.

The nationalities that did not receive a mandate can send a nationality spokesman to parliament.


  • Gabriel N. Toggenburg, Günther Rautz: The ABC of minority protection in Europe , Böhlau, Vienna 2010, ISBN 978-3-8252-3269-6
  • Peter Hilpold: New minorities in international law and European law . In: AVR , Vol. 42 (2004), pp. 80-110.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Karl-Ludwig Strelen: BWahlG comment . Ed .: Wolfgang Schreiber. 9th edition. Carl Heymanns Verlag, Cologne 2013, ISBN 978-3-452-27870-8 , p. 292 f .
  2. 5% clause in local elections in Schleswig-Holstein violates equal voting rights and equal opportunities , press release of the Federal Constitutional Court of February 13, 2008
  3. ^ Political parties law, commentary by Jörn Ipsen, CH. Beck Verlag (2008)
  4. Jørgen Elklit: De sønderjyske vælgere og spærrereglen. In: Soenderjysk Maanedsskrift, Volume 49, No. 2, 1973, pp. 65-74
  5. Special conditions of the German minority, Sønderborg municipality (Danish) ( Memento of the original from December 11, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.nysonderborg.dk
  6. Danish People's Party wants to secure minority , DR November 27, 2004 (Danish)
  7. Kommunalordnungsgesetz ( Lov om kommunernes styrelse ), LBK No. 1060 of October 24, 2000  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. § 5 and § 17@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  8. Decree to promote representation u. a. the German minority in South Jutland in the municipalities Haderslev, Sønderborg, Aabenraa and Tønder (Bekendtgørelse om fremme af det tyske mindretal i Sønderjyllands representation mv i Haderslev, Sønderborg, Tønder og Aabenraa Kommuner) , BEK no. 869 of 16 September 2005  ( page more available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.kl.dk  
  9. ^ Hearing notice of the local committee of the Folketing, February 23, 2005
  10. Federal Agency for Civic Education / bpb.de
  11. State Law of September 19, 2017, No. 14, Art. 3, 16 and 17
  12. a b http://ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2385_B.htm
  13. http://www.wahlrecht.de/ausland/polen.html
  14. avn.info.ve
  15. a b Nemzetiségek a választáson - Nemzeti Választási Iroda . In: Nemzeti Választási Iroda . ( valasztas.hu [accessed March 18, 2018]).