In 1949, the Basic Law was written in Germany in order to keep certain aspects according to certain rules. This literature review examines certain historical events and defines which instruments exist in the Basic Law to prevent those historical events from happening again. Furthermore, it includes constitutional norms, which then are applied to Lijphart’s (1999) question of whether the Consensus Model of Democracy or the Westminster Model of Democracy is better. The paper then discusses pros and cons of the mentioned models that are mentioned and concludes with a decision towards one of the two.
To begin with, it is important to mention that Germany is a country with a concrete historical situation having “the idea of forming an association to achieve a certain ends; or what is more likely, they want to adopt an already existing association to undertake these tasks” (Dahl, 1989, p. 106). On July 1948, the three Western Allied powers held a meeting in Frankfurt with the Ministerpräsidenten of the various states in order to draft a constitution for the three Western zones, which “was then to be placed before the electorate for approval”. Instead, the state executives decided to create a document named a “Basic Law” rather than a constitution. This Basic Law was completed after nine Months in May 1949 (Conradt, 2004, p.15). The Basic Law is a document that states the population’s rights and restrictions. Also the Basic Law includes penalties for non-compliance. The idea of the Basic Law is that people follow the Laws, respecting what it states in order to avoid certain historical events such as the failure of the Weimar Republic and the Holocaust. According to Dahl (1989), who wrote the piece of work A Theory of the Democratic Process, a good democracy should have certain items: effective participation, voting equality, enlightened understanding and control of the agenda. In Lijphart’s typology two models of democracies are represented: The Consensus Model of Democracy and the Westminster/Majoritarian Model of Democracy. Germany has a system that is closer to the Consensus Model but it certainly has items of both. The question is whether Germany has made the right choice adopting the Consensus model or would it be better if this country had adopted the Majoritarian model in order to achieve Dahl’s (1989) four points of good Democracy? It is important to compare the two political systems, however, in order to be able to decide whether the Consensus Model of Democracy is ideal for Germany or if the Westminster Model of Democracy is.
On July 1948, the three Western Allied powers held a meeting in Frankfurt with the Ministerpräsidenten of the various states in order to draft a constitution for the three Western zones, which “was then to be placed before the electorate for approval”. Instead, the state executives decided to create a document named a “Basic Law” rather than a constitution. This Basic Law was completed after nine Months in May 1949 (Conradt, 2004, p.15). The question is why the Basic Law was needed when the Weimer Constitution was considered to be “one of the most democratic” constitutions in the world (Conradt, 2004, p.6)? The reason for this question was that this constitution was not stable enough to keep the Weimar Republic running. In fact the outcome of the constitution was the following: “defeat and the national humiliation following the world war, widespread political violence, severe economic and social dislocation, and a political leadership with no real executive policymaking experience were major “birth defects” that the new state never entirely surmounted.” (Conradt, 2004, p.7). Also some historians believe that Hitler’s power was a result of the failure of the “Weimar Constitution” (Conradt, 2004, p.8).
Figure 1. Comparing Westminster Model to Consensus Model
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(Based on Lijphart, 1999)