German intelligence policy woes - the political side

The published and likely also the public opinion about the German government's role in regard to allies spying on us is quite negative.
Foreign intelligence services are not doing a small stunt here; they violate a constitutional right of ours (established in a federal supreme court ruling three decades ago in the context of a West German census) and commit crimes according to our criminal code.
Our government tolerated this and government agencies were glad to brazenly enjoy the fruits of these foreign crimes, circumventing their own legal restrictions this way.

It's really business as usual and what was to be expected, but sunlight made it more visible and it's summer, so the shitstorm began. On top of this, there's a federal election in September - THE federal election. We elect our parliament and through the parliament our federal government including chancellor regularly only once every four years.

The issue shows one fundamental problem of our political system, though: We're highly dissatisfied with a small share of our government's work and can vote. Now what?

We cannot vote specifically on the subject (federal plebiscites don't happen, although the constitution is compatible with them - the law to regulate plebiscites doesn't exist).

We cannot force change by voting for other parties (disregarding the other 99.x % of policy topics) because the others did the exact same thing when in government. The only party in parliament which did not tolerate the crap so far is the successor of the East German totalitarian police state actual Stasi pseudo-socialists.
We could vote for the new anti-European currency party (which is otherwise close tot he conservatives in its political program) which is likely to get around 3% of the vote and not make it past the 5% barring clause. We could vote for the pirate party, but they're just as disorganised internally as the anti-Euro party and will likely not make it to the 5% either.

Even if we voted for a party with a contra stance, it would end up at less than 10% (since the established ones aren't contra) and this intelligence policy thing is a typical case where small new parties would sacrifice principles to get into a government coalition because the establishment considers support for the status quo as a requirement for displaying maturity for governance.

Maybe the way to go is to introduce a direct democratic election of the Public Prosecutor General of the Federal Court of Justice office. This way we might at least get the justice system to prosecute the criminals counter to the political establishment's intent.

Being dissatisfied with the government and having no practical way to vent it through voting makes one feel a bit less like living in a democracy - especially if one knows that one's not exactly alone.


1 comment:

  1. Two comments: firstly, making specific positions directly electable is probably terrible. It means there will be more elections, spreading the relatively fixed amount of patience for politics that people have over more elections and making people care less for each one (or very little about most, making the whole exercise moot). There will also by necessity be a big focus on personality as the issue is which particular person to choose, and I don't know about the German elections, but in Sweden we try to focus on issues (though the media does it best to make "good tv", sight...)

    Secondly, it means that the work of the state (all non-elected public workers) and the work of the government (elected public workers) would not necessarily align, and that's just a bad way to run a country. The state should do the governments bidding, and the government should follow the will of the people, or so the idea goes. Already there is trouble with the link between government and people, making the coupling between the government and the state looser will probably just make the troubles messier (if not worse).

    No, the trouble with the government not listening to the people on some issues are best solved by examining the ways the two can interact. As you point out this scandal is actually about a small subset of the government policy, but there is no formal way by which to resolve the mismatch of goals. In fact (as I understand parliamentary democracy to work), there is just one formal mechanism: the approval of a specific party platform by the citizen. Everything else ends up in the informal category as variations on the theme "people argue with each other".

    So here is a place to start, by giving people more fine grained formal means of approving government policy, and you've had some ideas for how to do this Sven, with your talk about elections to separate sub-parliaments on specific topics. The practice of a general approval of a single party I feels is mostly just a consequence of physical limitations that are not as relevant with the information technology we now have.

    As a finishing comment, there is also the issue of how much we as citizens are responsible for telling our goals directly to the government, they are of course humans as well and mostly respect the opinion of other humans.