(Hardships; 03-03; p.2)
The budget for the current fiscal year has been
passed by parliament and chancellor Schröder declared his guide-lines
of social policy.
According to the German federal system of government
the federal government has to present a budget plan, parliament,
the Bundestag, has to decide on that and eventually the Bundesrat,
the chamber of the federation's states governments, has to decide
The budget plan is subdivided into several smaller
plans that are tailored after the responsibilities of the different
ministries. To create those plans, MPs work in different committees
which are composed in line with the parties' majorities in parliament.
Already on this level therefore the opposition
gets a chance to make itself heard and to vie for compromise.
Which of the measures suggested in the final analysis rest on
professional accuracy, on majorities or the influence of lobbyists
is an empirical question; in principle all factors add up to it.
Once the smaller plans are established, they
are debated in parliament up to three times and an if needed,
adjusted budget plan is passed that consists of all the smaller
Because of the overwhelming power of parties in Germany it is
conceivable that the Bundestag does not approve the budget plan,
but not very likely: so-called "party discipline" causes
MPs to vote accordance with recommendations of party fellows and
plans established by the majority of the ruling party or coalition
in the committees in turn are passed as comprehensive plan by
the ruling majority.
To unveil personal responsibilities however, there is a special
voting mechanism, the roll-call vote, i.e. every MP has to make
a personal decision which is laid down in the parliament's protocols
and so accessible for the public. The fiscal plan for 2003 has
been passed this way.
Afterwards, this plan has to be debated and
passed by the Bundesrat. In case it is not approved, a special
committee has to work out a compromise, the Vermittlungsausschuss.
As mediating committee it consists of sixteen delegates of the
(sixteen) federal states' governments and the same number of delegates
of the Bundestag, selected according to party shares. At the moment,
the fiscal plan for 2003 is presented to the Bundesrat. (read