Taking stock of what German governments do: Two new articles by Frank Bandau and Philipp Mai

In a recently published book, edited by Reimut Zohlnhöfer and Fabian Engler (Heidelberg University), two new chapters of the public policy team at the TUK have appeared.

In his chapter, Frank Bandau analyses the social policies adopted during the fourth Merkel government (2017-2021). His focus is on the determinants of three reforms during that time: 1) introduction of a basic pension, 2) a law on employment protection and safety at work and 3) temporary changes of the social security system during the Covid-19 crisis. He shows that the government of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats continued the expansive social policy of the previous government with the same composition, although far-reaching reforms were missing. Partisan theory and the veto player approach in particular, but also theories of party competition, offer useful explanations for the reforms that were carried out.

In the chapter co-authored by Philipp Mai, Moritz Link and Fabian Engler, the individual-level voting behaviour of members of parliament was analyzed and compared with previous Merkel governments (2005-2021). The first part deals with the determinants of dissenting voting behaviour. In those whipped votes, career-related characteristics in particular can be used to explain why MPs vote against the line of their parliamentary group more often (when they have longer parliamentary experience, do not run for reelection and were socialised in Eastern Germany) or less often (when they hold important offices and are electorally secure). The second part examines, on the basis of the Organ Donation Reform 2020, which factors influence voting behaviour when MPs are released from party discipline and face a conflict of values between self-determination on the one hand and collective interests and the state’s duty to protect the health of its citizens on the other. In addition to individual denominational and party affiliation, the socio-demographic composition of the constituency electorate are of major importance for MPs’ voting behaviour.