PS: Constitutional Reform & Double Deel

By Julian Dierkes

Constitutional revision remains under consideration in Mongolia. If the MPP wins the presidential election in June 2017, there may be less pressure toward a revision of the relative power of president and parliament (most recent discussions in Mongolia would assign more power to parliament, but somehow I don’t think that M Enkhbold would be so excited about that should he win the presidential election).

One of the issues that keeps coming up over and over is the “double deel” (давхар дээл), i.e. concern about members of parliament also serving as members of cabinet.

Previously, I have used examples from Canadian and German state/provincial parliaments to argue that other parliaments of comparable size have not been concerned about this challenge.

As it turns out and as I have learned in the context of debates of constitutional reform in Berlin, I was at least partly wrong about that.

The Green Party of Germany, for example, has long argued for a separation between a seat in parliament and an office (Trennung von Amt und Mandat), though this has been focused primarily on party offices.

In Spring 2017, the Berlin parliament (Abgeordnetenhaus) is debating a proposed constitutional amendment to prevent the double deel. I hesitate to offer this link, in part because it leads to the proposal by the Alternative für Deutschland, a rightist-populist party. However, as the example of rules against the party double deel in the Green Party show, this is a debate that other parties are open to.

The case in the Berlin discussions includes the following elements:

  • separation of power: the German constitution does not adopt this as a principle, instead preferring interlocking powers (Gewaltenverschränkung)
  • weakening of parliament: this is in part a numbers argument (i.e. every member that joins the cabinet no longer operates as a member of parliament, but also an argument about the role of parliament as endorsing and controlling the government
  • salary: the Berlin parliament is defined as a half-time job (surely not realistically so), members of cabinet (Senatoren in the case of Berlin) thus draw salaries as such AND as members of parliament
  • examples: the two other German city states, Hamburg and Bremen, both have separated membership from parliament from membership in cabinet

While the Greens have practiced this separation for some time, it has also been advocated for by parts of the Social Democrats.

Given similarities in the issues and challenges identified, perhaps there are opportunities for an exchange between Berlin and Mongolia around this topic.

About Julian Dierkes

Julian Dierkes is a sociologist by training (PhD Princeton Univ) and a Mongolist by choice and passion since around 2005. He teaches in the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He tweets @jdierkes
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