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German civil society welcomes decision by constitutional court on the publication of parliamentarians’ income

Potential conflicts of interests of German parliamentarians become more transparent - Additional details on income now required

Seven German non-governmental organisations welcome the decision of the German Constitutional Court to dismiss the case against the "Parliamentarians' Law" and the respective code of conduct, requiring parliamentarians to report on additional sources of income. BUND, Campact, foodwatch, Germanwatch, LobbyControl, Mehr Demokratie and Transparency Deutschland see barriers abolished concerning the advancement of the German "Parliamentarians' Law". The Constitutional Court has confirmed that this law does not violate the German constitution.

In 2005, nine members of the German parliament went to the German constitutional court claiming that the then-new "Parliamentarians' Law" would violate the German constitution. The German Constitutional Court ruled today with a vote of 4 to 4 that this is not the case. According to German law, in case of an equality of votes by the Constitutional Court, a claim is dismissed.

"Potential conflicts of interests of members of parliament should be made transparent. The decision of the court has strengthened democratic citizens' rights. The constitutional role of parliament has priority over the individual rights of parliamentarians,” said Jochen Bäumel, board member of the anti-corruption organisation Transparency Deutschland.

According to the "Parliamentarians' Law" the activities of a parliamentarian in relationship with the mandate for which he was elected should be the focus of his activity. Additional professional activities are considered to be secondary employment, which must be disclosed to the President of the German parliament and made public. This income is not published in exact numbers but presented in three monthly ranges: 1.000 – 3.500 Euro, 3.500 – 7.000 Euro or 7.000 Euro and more.

Despite the close decision of the German Constitutional Court, the NGOs’ demands for further detailed information on the parliamentarians' income has not been dropped. The organisations demand the publication of the exact figures for all incomes and not only the publication in form of three ranges. “The Court has approved the law. Now the advancement of the code of conduct is the central challenge, so that not only intervals but precise numbers are published,” said Christian Humborg, Managing Director of Transparency Deutschland.

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Dr Christian Humborg
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