What Did the Court Say?
The German Constitutional Court ruled today that Germany’s three per cent electoral threshold for European elections is unconstitutional because it violates the principle of equality. The ruling was not exactly a surprise: In 2011, the court had already abolished a five per cent electoral threshold on account of the European Union not being a parliamentary system that would require large and coherent parliamentary groups and stable majorities. The three per cent threshold was enacted only last October in a constitutional gamble. Lawmakers wanted to keep smaller parties out of the EP, although they were perfectly aware that the logic of the first ruling would probably rule out a lower threshold, too.
What Are the Consequences?
The court has just made a bunch of smaller parties very happy. Germany has 99 seats in the EP, so without a legal threshold, the effective threshold is just over one per cent. The AfD is currently polling around six per cent, so unless something dramatic happens, the ruling virtually guarantees them representation in the next parliament. That would give the AfD a parliamentary foothold that they will use to establish themselves firmly in the German polity.
Things also haven’t looked so good for the Pirates and the NPD in a long time. The latter case is particularly interesting: If the Constitutional Court should ban the NPD further down the line, their MPs would lose their seats under German law. Will this also apply to MEPs?