A voter group is an association that runs for elections without claiming the status of a political party . Alternative names are voter community ( Wgem. ), Voter association , citizen association ( BV ), citizen list , party-free u. v. a. m .; in German European electoral law the term is other political association (SPV) .
Often groups of voters arise from citizens' initiatives ; committed citizens come together to run for an election . The focus of their work is mostly on local politics . Other groups of voters represent a pool of non-party, but politically interested and committed people who either do not want to join a party or want to bundle the forces of moderate bourgeois-conservative opinions. As FDP to call voters' associations, which differs from the conventional party politics want to delimit the voters open to an existing or alleged party disaffection appeal and make this their political program. Depending on the local conditions, several groups of voters take part in the elections in a municipality.
Often the term voter initiative is used synonymously for the term voter group . In German politics, however, voter initiative also refers to groups of citizens who do not run for elections themselves, but instead promote the election of another party to which they do not belong.
A special form is the name list , which is grouped around a single non-attached political person. These are primarily to be found at community level in order to achieve a mayor's office , but also, for example, in national politics with the Martin list or the Stronach team in Austria.
In order to justify independent groups of voters, it is often argued that in a community, community- oriented policy takes precedence over ideological party policy. Therefore, membership in one of the major political parties is neither desirable nor necessary.
Situation in Germany
Legal status and admission to elections
In German local electoral law, there are different requirements for the participation of groups of voters in local elections , depending on the federal state . Voting groups generally need to prove that they are lawfully incorporated, have proper statutes, and demonstrate that their board of directors has been democratically appointed. Very often, but not absolutely necessary, groups of voters are organized locally in the form of a registered association (eV).
It is constitutionally inadmissible to restrict participation in local elections to parties and to exclude groups of voters. See local elections in Saarland 1960 (invalid) and the case law of the Federal Constitutional Court described there.
Municipal voters' associations can not profit be, but are donations to them as donations to political parties to Income Tax Act (ITA) tax deferred (but not in addition in addition to Income Tax Act as a special edition deductible), but the voters Communities not like parties are accountable (see also Party funding # Germany ).
In European elections , electoral associations can run, which are then referred to as other political associations (SPV). The provisions for other political associations in European elections are set out in (1) EuWG and EuWO . They differ from political parties, but must be organized as members, aim to participate in the formation of political will and focus on participation in popular representations, and have their seat, management, activities and membership in a member state of the European Union . It is sufficient if they were expressly formed for a single European election. It is not necessary to meet all other requirements specified in the Political Parties Act. Like the parties, the SPVs receive reimbursement of election campaign costs .
Dissemination and organization
Particularly in rural areas, voter groups are often very important in local politics and in many communities they also provide mayors and parts of the local council , and sometimes they dominate their strongholds. In small and medium-sized towns, they initially succeeded in gaining mayor posts mostly only in their strongholds, for example in Baden-Württemberg or Bavaria . In many cases, however, they provide mayors or councilors as part of coalitions. In large cities, groups of voters initially had less weight. Recently, however, they have managed to get representation there too.
Voting groups are mostly local in their politics, their positions are therefore different and inconsistent. There are usually no party programs similar to those of established parties. In individual cases , groups of voters such as the Free Voters also take up state and federal political issues. Among other things, the party funding (federal politics) is criticized . Demands include the implementation of direct democracy at local and regional level.
Individual groups of voters
The most important organization of groups of voters are the “free voters”. Nationwide, they are most strongly represented in Baden-Württemberg , where they make up 44 percent of all municipal councils (largest group) and 24 percent of all district councils (second largest group).
Due to the regional orientation, a nationwide uniform structure is only being set up. For the 2009 European elections in Germany, the Free Voters founded a group of voters at the federal level in order to strengthen the municipalities and cities there too. Several state associations or state associations of free voters have come together to form the “Federal Association of Free Voters”. The Free Voting Group EU e. V. closed the European voter group at its general assembly in Münster in February 2010 and handed it over to a federal association of free voters, where state associations and their members are now joining. The European voter group and the federal association are united in the federal association. The purpose of this is to be able to stand up for cross-national elections for state elections, federal elections and European elections. The State Association of Free Voters Saxony-Anhalt, for example, ran for the 2011 state election . Independent voter communities, free voter communities and parts of the people's initiative Saxony-Anhalt joined forces in the state association.
Meanwhile, the federal association FREIE VÄHLER exists as a federal party ( Free Voters (Federal Association) ), represented in the state parliament in Bavaria, in many cities, districts and municipalities ( state parliament , results of the state elections in the Federal Republic of Germany ). From 2009 it will have one and from 2019 two seats in the European Parliament.
The beginnings of the Greens
Even the Greens were not initially organized as a political party in Germany. The founding of the party was preceded by three electoral associations and an already existing small party: One of the first “green” groups was the Green List Environmental Protection , which has been successful in local and state elections in Lower Saxony since 1977. In 1978, the Schleswig-Holstein Green List and the Green Action Future were founded , and the national-conservative party Action Community of Independent Germans was the fourth organization to become part of the newly founded party “The Greens” in 1980. In the European elections in Germany in 1979 , however, another political association called “The Greens” took part and achieved 3.2% of the votes in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Alliance of Free Voters
The Alliance of Free Voters was a voter association in Brandenburg that was founded in 2004 from the merger of several municipal electoral associations. She stood in the state elections in Brandenburg in 2004 and achieved 0.94% of the second votes and 3.55% of the first votes, but no mandate in the state parliament.
For Brandenburg / Citizen saves Brandenburg
Pro Brandenburg / Citizen saves Brandenburg competed in the state elections in Brandenburg in 2004 . The list of voters was headed by Dirk Weßlau , former state chairman of the Schill party and district chairman of Pro Barnim.
Your friends, Cologne
“ Your friends ” were represented with two seats in the Cologne City Council.
FREE VOTERS Cologne
The non-party (Neuenhagen)
A group of voters from Neuenhagen near Berlin who were not party to the party , which was founded in 2014 before the local elections. They are now the strongest parliamentary group with 7 seats in the community and provide mayor Ansgar Scharnke
The good guys, Nuremberg
Die Guten are a group of voters from Nuremberg that was founded in 1989 and has had a seat on the city council since the local elections in 1996 . As early as 1990 local elections , she ran one person for mayor's office. Among other things, the Nuremberg night bus network , the so-called NightLiner, was introduced on the initiative of the electoral community in 1998 .
Left list Nuremberg
The Left List Nuremberg is an amalgamation of several left-wing parties, associations, organizations and individuals from the city. It ran for the first time in the local elections in 2008 and has since been represented on the Nuremberg city council with three seats. Since the Left Party left in 2018, it has only had one seat. It was able to defend it in the 2020 local elections .
Political gang, Nuremberg
The Politbande is an association that was founded by Nuremberg artists and cultural workers in November 2018 and ran as an independent group of voters for the 2020 local elections. The main concern is to strengthen the subcultural scene in the city. The alliance has had a seat on the Nuremberg city council since 2020.
Situation in Switzerland
In Switzerland there are no formal requirements to be able to participate in elections as a group. The parties and groups are usually organized as an association, which is very easy to do.
In German-speaking Switzerland, free voters are almost exclusively of municipal importance. They occur in a small number of mostly rural communities in individual cantons , particularly in the canton of Bern . The communities with free voters are rather small. Free voters live to a particular extent from the personality of individual exponents. They only survive as a group of voters if they succeed in being represented in the local council or, in larger communities, in the local parliament. In some parishes they even provide the mayor . Sometimes politicians appear under the name of Free Voters who have been excluded from their previous party due to differences of opinion. One example of this is the exclusion of District Administrator Urs-Peter Moos from the SVP and the subsequent establishment of the Free Voters Binningen .
In a broader sense, the term Free Voters is also used in Switzerland to propose non-party candidates for election on a party list ( XY party and Free Voters ).
The free lists are not to be confused with the free voters . Under this name, parties have been founded in the last few decades, especially in urban areas, which pay special attention to environmental policy and which otherwise tend to represent a left-liberal worldview. As a result, most of them were renamed the Green Free List , they are now part of the Greens in Switzerland. The development of the Greens in the canton of Bern with founding member Leni Robert is an example of this .
- Sebastian Roßner: Parties against their will - From voter associations and a subjective component of the party concept . In: Martin Morlok, Thomas Poguntke, Jens Walther (eds.): Politics past the parties - “Free voters” and municipal electoral associations as an alternative . Nomos, Baden-Baden 2012, ISBN 978-3-8329-7052-9 , pp. 125-145.
- Patricia M. Schiess Rütimann: Equal treatment of parties and other political groups under Swiss law. Supplemented by critical remarks on the success of non-party members and newly founded parties. In: Martin Morlok, Thomas Poguntke, Jens Walther (eds.): Politics past the parties - “Free voters” and municipal electoral associations as an alternative . Nomos, Baden-Baden 2012, ISBN 978-3-8329-7052-9 , pp. 255-267.
- Patricia M. Schiess Rütimann: Political parties. Private law associations between public law and private law. Habilitation Zurich 2010, Stämpfli Verlag, Bern 2011, ISBN 978-3-7272-8800-5 . Also published as Volume 41 of the series “Writings on political parties and political party research”, Nomos, Baden-Baden 2011, ISBN 978-3-8329-6959-2 .
- Hans Herbert von Arnim: Are Free Voting Communities Discriminated in Political Competition? Ceremonial speech on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the FWG regional association Rhineland-Palatinate on November 2, 1997 in Hambach Castle. November 2, 1997, archived from the original on January 18, 2005 ; Retrieved February 5, 2013 .
- Hans Herbert von Arnim: The free voters - standard bearers of communal democracy. Six theses - 175 years after the Hambach Festival. September 17, 2007, accessed October 20, 2019 .
- Patricia M. Schiess Rütimann: Equal treatment of parties and other political groups under Swiss law - supplemented by critical remarks on the success of non-party members and newly founded parties. In: Martin Morlok, Tomas Poguntke, Jens Walther: Politics past the parties: Free voters and municipal voter communities as an alternative. Nomos, Baden-Baden 2012, pp. 255–267.
- Voters' initiatives ( Memento from May 7, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
- Other political associations. Federal Returning Officer , December 2009, archived from the original on January 14, 2013 ; Retrieved February 5, 2013 .
- Frank Decker: Handbook of the German parties. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2007, ISBN 978-3-531-15189-2, limited preview in the Google book search
- Overview of mandate holders. In: Website Free Voters Cologne. Retrieved September 4, 2019 .
- Groß Pankow (Prignitz) | District of Prignitz | Results of the mayoral elections | Elections. Retrieved March 3, 2020 .
- Ex SVP member Urs-Peter Moos founds his own party. onlinereports , December 4, 2012, accessed September 19, 2013 .