Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Election

Today Red Baron voted for the European parliament and for Freiburg's city council. Strasbourg is far away but our Rathaus (city hall) is in walking distance.

Freiburg's city council has 48 members meaning that I had an equal number of votes to cast. This has historical reasons. Up to 1248 the city council only had 24 members all of noble families who were city councilors by birth and for lifetime. In view of their mismanagement of public property a small revolution took place in May 1248. All citizens assembled in the Münster church square and demanded that an additional 24 and mostly younger members of the nobility, merchants, and craftsmen were added to the city council helping the established 24 with the administration. These new members were elected on a yearly basis. This timid "democratization" continued up to 1386.

The document of May 1248 enlarging Freiburg's city council
When in the Battle of Sempach in the same year the Swiss slaughtered 656 earls, noblemen, and patricians mostly from Freiburg these people suddenly lost their majority in the city council. It was the Austrian Duke Leopold IV., Freiburg's new ruler, who decided in 1392 that all 48 council members be elected yearly and be composed of 12 patricians, 12 merchants, 18 masters of the guilds plus 6 additional guild members.

Nowadays our 48 city councilors are elected for a 5 year mandate. There are 13 parties who would like to sit in Freiburg's town hall. The lists of candidates of the various parties are contained in a somewhat longish booklet where the voter has the agony of choice. Is this the reason that less than half of Freiburg's citizens cast their votes?
Title of the booklet containing 13 ballot sheets. Only half the length is shown.
On the bottom it reads:You therefore have 48 votes
In fact, the voting system for city councils in Baden-Württemberg is rather complicated. The easiest way to vote is that you tear one page for a particular party out of the booklet, place this ballot sheet in an prepared envelope, and then into the voting box. If you like to calculate, for one seat in the city council a party list must draw a minimum of 2.08% of the votes.

Red Baron likes to have it complicated. First, I never like my party's order of its 48 candidates on the ballot sheet. Here I have the possibility to häufeln (cumulate) up to three votes on particular candidates thus moving them up the list. A party getting 14% of the votes will have 7 seats in the city council. So the first 7 persons from their list are elected. In cumulating your votes you can (slightly) influence the order on the ballot sheet.

Second, I know a number of candidates from other parties personally and want to give them some of my votes. In this case I panaschiere (mix) my choice in adding the names of the persons of other parties on my party list by hand. Then I attribute to them up to three votes. In these games there is only one condition to fulfill: Your ballot sheet must not count more than 48 votes in total.

P.S.: The results of the voting for Freiburg's city council were known only today (May 27) as the poll workers first had to count the votes for the European parliament. Whereas in Europe the Eurosceptics increased their number of deputies by 50% the results for Freiburg's city council show no surprises. Here are the seats for the various parties in the new assembly (in brackets the distribution of seats in the previous council elected in 2009):

Green Party (Grüne)           11 (11)
Christian Democrats (CDU)    9 (10)
Social Democrats (SPD)        8  (9)
Leftist List (LiSSt)                4  (4)
Free Voters (FW)                 3  (3)
Livable Freiburg (FL)             3  (0)
Free Democrats (FDP)           2  (4)
Culture List (KULT)               2  (2)
Young Freiburg (JF)              2  (1)
Alternative Greens (GAF)       1  (2)
Independent Women (UFF)     1  (0)
The Party (DIEPARTEI)          1  (0)
Christians for Freiburg (CFF)   1  (0)

Mayor Dieter Salomon commented: Freiburg bleibt regierbar, aber der Gemeinderat wird bunter (Freiburg remains "governable" but the city council is more colored). It will nevertheless be difficult to attribute different and distinct colors to all thirteen parties presented in Freiburg's new city council some although only with one seat.

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