W ubiegłym tygodniu Federalny Trybunał Konstytucyjny w Karlsruhe wstrzymał pracę Bundestagu nad ważną ustawą, gdyż nadmiernie pośpieszny tryb jej uchwalania uniemożliwił jednemu z deputowanych szczegółowe zapoznanie się z jej treścią, co stoi w sprzeczności z istotą służby reprezentanta niemieckich wyborców. Pisze o tym w swoim cotygodniowym newsletterze założyciel i redaktor naczelny zasłużonego i kompetentnego serwisu internetowego Verfasssungsblog.de – Max Steinbeis:
Federalny Trybunał Konstytucyjny, a ściślej jego II Senat, a dokładniej: pięciu z ośmiu jego sędziów powstrzymało Bundestag przed uchwaleniem w tym [ubiegłym] tygodniu gorąco kwestionowanej Heizungsgesetz (ustawy grzewczej). Wniosek złożył konserwatywny poseł Thomas Heilmann, który uważa, że naruszone zostało jego wynikające z art. 38 Ustawy Zasadniczej prawo do równego udziału w obradach i procesie decyzyjnym parlamentu. Twierdzi, że pośpiech, by przeprowadzić projekt ustawy przez parlament przed wakacjami, pozbawiłby go szansy na dotarcie do sedna tego, co było poddawane pod głosowanie. Streszczenie projektu ustawy rządu federalnego ma 94 strony, a memorandum wyjaśniające kolejne 14 stron. Właściwa poprawka została złożona we wtorek, a w piątek projekt miał przejść drugie i trzecie czytanie. Nie, nie, nie! To wszystko za szybko. [Wnioskodawca] Twierdzi, że aby sumiennie wykonywać swój mandat, poseł Heilmann potrzebuje co najmniej 14 dni. [By] Myśleć. [By] Czytać. [By] Rozważać.
Przecież jako reprezentant całego narodu i kierujący się wyłącznie swoim sumieniem chce postąpić słusznie, prawda? Nie daj Boże, żeby zagłosował przeciwko temu prawu teraz, kiedy jest całkiem dobre. Albo na odwrót!
Having a Break
If the Federal Constitutional Court wants to reflect on constitutional abuse, that’s a good thing!
Juuuust a minute. Wait, wait, wait. Stop right there. Not so fast. Easy now. Hold your horses.
The Federal Constitutional Court, or more precisely: its Second Senate, or even more precisely: five of its eight judges have stopped the Bundestag from passing the hotly contested Heizungsgesetz (heating law) this week. The motion was filed by the conservative MP Thomas Heilmann, who feels that his right under Article 38 of the Basic Law to participate equally in the parliamentary deliberation and decision-making process has been infringed upon. The rush to get the bill through parliament before the summer break, he argues, would deprive him of the chance to get to the bottom of what was being put to the vote. The synopsis of the federal government’s bill is 94 pages long, and the explanatory memorandum another 14 pages. The actual amendment was tabled on Tuesday, and on Friday the bill was supposed to pass the second and the third reading. No, no, no! That’s all way too fast. In order to exercise his mandate conscientiously, MP Heilmann needs at least 14 days, he claims. To think. To read. To consider. To wrap his head around all the intricacies. After all, as a representative of the whole people and subject to his conscience alone, he wants to do the right thing, doesn’t he? God forbid he votes against that law now when it’s actually quite good. Or the other way around!
Does the individual deputy Heilmann’s right to thorough- and thoughtfulness against the whole Bundestag demand more deliberation time in this particular case? Hm, says the Second Senate in Karlsruhe. Perhaps it does. Perhaps not. That needs to be thoroughly and thoughtfully considered. If it does, poor MP Heilmann would be deprived of his rights for no good reason if he had to vote on Friday anyway. If it doesn’t and MP Heilmann gets his way nevertheless, the Bundestag, as a constitutional organ, would have to accept a considerable encroachment on its autonomy, the effects of which it could, however, contain itself by scheduling a special session before the end of July. Which would be worse?
The former, finds the Bundesverfassungsgericht and stops the legislative process in its track. No vote on Friday, no passing of the law before the summer break, so MP Heilmann has all the time he needs to rack his brains over how worthy he considers the government’s heating law to be, and the Second Senate can reflect in peace on exactly what obligations result from the principle of equal participation of MPs in parliamentary decision-making for the design of legislative procedures, and we all together will go into the summer break ahead of us without a passed Heizungsgesetz, but with the power that lies in calmness.
A break. Don’t we all need one? We are all going crazy with all the stuff going on out there. The other day was the hottest ever recorded, we read somewhere, and the summer hasn’t even started for real. Something urgently needs to be done, but the more urgent things become, the more difficult it seems to be to remain capable of political action at all. Germany is governed by a three-party coalition, a novelty by itself, two of which are in fact political opponents and the third of which seems to be increasingly calcifying into an apparatus of organised just-leave-me-aloneism. Those who feel the dwindling of the remaining time as the dwindling of their own future become more and more desperate, make all the more stress and noise and commotion, and those disturbed in their need for calm and security react all the more irritably, resentfully and rabidly, and here we are, in the summer of 2023, with the AfD at 20 percent on the federal level.
As far as the heating law is concerned, it is not easy to say what the intervention from Karlsruhe is actually supposed to be good for. The governing coalition had organised, in a lengthy and laborious enough manner, a majority for their law. MP Heilmann belongs to the outvoted minority. This is not undemocratic, but the exact opposite. That MP Heilmann was prevented by the procedure from fulfilling his opposition role in a way that endangers the functioning conditions of parliamentary democracy is not readily apparent to me. In any case, the coalition has made it clear that it will pass the law in September exactly as it would have passed it now on Friday. So that there is clarity about what will apply in the heating cellars of the Federal Republic from 1 January 2024. So that we can get some peace and calm now. So that this painful matter doesn’t ruin our summer, too.
But maybe this is not just about the heating law? What the Second Senate wants to protect the outvoted minority in the Bundestag from is an „abusive acceleration of the legislative process”. Abusive: I am very curious to see what the Senate will make of this term in its decision on the merits. One of the hallmarks of authoritarian populist constitutional politics is what I would call, building on Roman Guski, the abuse of a position of democratic dominance: making use of one’s democratically legitimised right to exercise political power in a self-contradictory way by using it to immunise oneself against rule-of-law control and democratic competition and thus to puncture the legitimising basis of one’s own power. I think it is extremely important in these dark times to mark this as a self-contradictory, abusive and unlawful use of the law and to ban it accordingly. Is that what the Senate has in mind with this? It wouldn’t be the first time that it has used a suitable pending case to unfold an elaborate legal theory which, in terms of the case at hand, ultimately does not apply. If it did that here in the sense of a robust theory of constitutional abuse, that would be worth the delayed passage of the Heizungsgesetz three times over, as far as I’m concerned.
And quite apart from that, one more reason why the injunction by the Karlsruhe court deserves my approval is the fact that we do indeed all need a break now. Have a break, have a Kit-Kat. We need to calm down, we need to go to the beach, we need a cool drink and a good read and some hammock time. We can’t always be drudging, we can’t always be arguing. We need a break.
See you at the end of August or beginning of September!((Of course, Verfassungsblog will go on as usual, and so does our Thuringia project. So little time!))
Tytuł od redakcji Monitora