Monday

21st Aug 2017

German ruling party ponders limiting powers of top court

  • The Karlsruhe-based Constitutional Court has a strong say on eurozone matters (Photo: jgieseking)

Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats are pondering how to limit the powers of the "latent anti-European" Constitutional Court, whose latest verdict will allow fringe parties to have representatives in the European Parliament.

German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere, himself a Christian-Democrat, last week held consultations over dinner with a handful of constitutional law professors.

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His spokesperson confirmed on Friday (4 April) that discussions included the role of the Constitutional Court but he refused to give any further details.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper reported that the meeting was centred around the "growing resentment" between Karlsruhe and Berlin, particularly after the last verdict which scrapped the three-percent threshold for the EU elections.

There was also debate on how to limit the powers of the Karlsruhe-based court in EU affairs, for instance by rewriting the constitutional article regarding Europe, FAZ reported.

The court last month ruled that a three-percent threshold for the upcoming EU elections was unconstitutional and discriminatory against smaller parties.

The ruling is expected to result in the Neo-Nazi NPD party getting seats in the EP for the first time.

The court downplayed the risk of fragmentation in the European Parliament arguing that the EU assembly does not form a government as a national parliament does.

A parallel meeting on Thursday among leading figures of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag also focused on the Constitutional Court.

The gathering considered changing the rules of how judges are appointed to the court and potentially shortening their 12-year mandates, Spiegel reported on Sunday.

CDU deputy chief Armin Laschet tweeted that the Karlsruhe judges are displaying a "latent anti-European style" and that it is pure "hubris" to rule after 35 years that the EU election law is unconstitutional.

Justice minister Heiko Maas from the Social-Democratic Party rejected the potential move.

"The criticism is exaggerated and inappropriate. There will be no changes to the structure and competences of the Constitutional Court under my watch."

The Green opposition also criticised the stance of the ruling Christian-Democrats. "Shocking that Kauder&Co seriously want to limit the independence of the Constitutional Court because they dislike its rulings," tweeted Green MP Katja Dorner.

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