By the German constitution, every member of parliament has to adhere to their conscience only. In reality, the parties on the parliament usually vote unanimously for some bill. The parties that are part of the coalition vote in support of the bill, the other parties against it.
To me, this does not make much sense. We have hundreds of members in the parliament in order to represent the nuances of society. If they only adhere to their party, then we could just have a couple of people from each party in the parliament and give them a weight factor according to the number of votes that their party has. This would require less people and the apparent result would be the same.
I realize that all those members do other things as well, they work in little work groups on fine grained topics and discuss these with the remaining party. Therefore the whole party might be persuaded to support this direction. With fewer people there, there would be less manpower to delve into these topics.
Today it was announced that the talks about coalition between CDU, CSU, FDP and Grüne have failed. Of course there were topics that were rather polarized, like refugees and coal power. In these talks the result might have been a coalition with an agreement like this:
Although the green party (Grüne) don't want to cap the number of refugees, they agree to some particular number. On the other hand, CDU/CSU agree to cut down coal power in order to reduce CO₂ emissions.
But why is there a need to talk about this beforehand? Why do we (or the politicians) want a static coalition? Instead, I would imagine it to go like this. The parties meet in the parliament and then they just vote on stuff, everyone on their own.
- A few candidates for chancellor are suggested, Merkel, Schulz, …. Then all parties vote for their favorite candidate.
- Then this chancellor picks ministers that he thinks will head into directions that are supported by society and therefore also by the majority of members in the parliament.
- New laws are proposed and every member just votes for them. This requires the need of sufficient information for each voting politician, of course. Their party can provide some guidance, but ultimately they need to make up their own mind.
This would remove the need for those weird coalition talks. Also it would prevent those “deals” where all other parties support some crazy idea just because they need the votes from the small party for some idea. If there is a wide majority for the “foreigner toll”, it will be passed. Otherwise, it will not. If there are enough members voting to reduce coal emissions, it happens.
Why do we need coalitions which statically put large chunks of the political spectrum into powerless opposition for a full legislation period?