(Mountain; 11/12-03; p.5)
Employment and party politics
Important laws on taxation and some other topics
of employment politics – catch words: regulations for craftsmanship,
public employment, unemployment benefits – have been negotiated
in the German 'Vermittlungsausschuss'.
This committee is a peculiarity of German federalism
combined with German political (party) culture.
Once it has been established as a final forum in which the federal
parliament and the states governments are equally represented
to negotiate laws effecting states' affairs.
Nowadays it has become invaded by party politics: parliament and
states' representatives do not necessarily represent the federal
level or their states, but the respective parties. The current
committee consists of sixteen federal MPs and sixteen representatives
of the states. Along party lines, Social Democrats and Greens,
the ruling coalition on the federal level, provide one half of
the members, Christian Democrats and Liberals, the opposition
on the federal level, provide the other.
To summarise the results: the federal government
and opposition (see above!) agreed on tax cuts financed by a moderate
new budget deficit; a master's certificate will no longer be mandatory
for a number of crafts; public employment – which up to now has
been often disguised as vocational training courses or job-creation
measures – will be reduced to regions within which no private
employment market emerges. Besides, transfer payments like unemployment
benefits should be further reduced for some groups of people.
The results certainly stand for a compromise;
the political actors thus have successfully worked in a minimal
functional sense of democratic government: resolving conflicts
of interests in a peaceful way.
Even so, the results do not represent party programmes, but rather
a common expectation of least voters losses. Whether or not these
expectations are going to become reality and whether or not the
decisions made are legitimate, are open to debate.
(end of article)