Sunday, December 20, 2015

The 'Game' of a New State Constitution

Shortly after WW II ended (roughly twelve months), Hessen (my local German state) sat down and crafted a state constitution.  No one writes much over this episode.  The guys involved probably had a couple of meetings....some side conferences.....and threw up some things to replace the Nazi-era written piece.  I have my doubts that long-winded engagements occurred and the public probably didn't care much for all this legal discussion at the time.....rebuilding their lives, getting jobs, and having food on the table was of a higher priority.

Over the years.....some legal minds have been bothered by the Hessen Constitution.  There are various pieces and parts to it.....which just don't fit or work within today's world.  In some passages.....implementation never occurred (no, they never did nationalize the mining or steel industry in Hessen as the 1946 Constitution allowed for).  The allowance for the death penalty?  Well....national law eventually forbid it but the Hessen Constitution still allows for it.

So, all of this has drawn the legal minds to this idea of a project for 2016.....to rewrite the Constitution for Hessen.  The four major political parties (CDU, Greens, SPD and FDP) are in agreement to start such a project.  Each will privately disagree on the outcome I suspect.

The hot topics?  Well.....volunteerism is on the list.  There's likely to be some talk over mandatory 'volunteering'.  They might call it simply participation or being part of some civic cause.....but it'll generate a fair amount of discussion and hostility.

The voting age will be discussed.  On state affairs, there's some feeling that pushing the voting age down to sixteen years old should be allowed (at least by SPD and Green enthusiasts).  Oddly, you can drink (at least beer and wine) at sixteen.....so it might make sense.  I suspect that you might even find two-percent of the population that would be agreeable to let fourteen year old kids the right to vote in state elections.

All of this talk leads to the 'umbrella'.  The political folks want university discussions, internet chat discussions, town discussions, a 15-member commission, business forum discussions, religious forum discussion, immigrant forum discussions, and even school-age forum discussions.

In essence, they want 5.99 million Hessens to discuss this to the ninth degree.  Sadly, I (holding a visa) probably count toward the eventual six million in population, and they probably even want my humble opinion about this draft.

Opening this type of thing to mass discussion will probably mean a massive amount of disagreement and a project which will likely take five years to accomplish.

Use as a 2018-election topic?  Well, yeah, that's one of the oddball characteristics of this story.  My guess is that all of the political parties....maybe even the Linke Party (which doesn't usually get many votes in Hessen) will use this chat forum thing to get in political points.  It'll brew as a point of hostility for some folks.

The odds that all of this will just be talk and nothing accomplished?  This is an interesting part of the story.  Roughly a decade ago.....there was another commission and big-talk of another new state Constitution.  It failed.  No one says much from either the journalistic or political side.....but I'd suspect that they got deep into discussion and found themselves unable to agree.

What's interesting about this.....is that one could easily sit down and get complete agreement to remove the allowance of execution (the death penalty) in a matter of an hour or two (probably over eight-percent of the population would agree).  You could take the vote and just be done with fixing that one element.  But fixing one single element is basically 'forbidden'.....they want an entire re-write and nothing short of that.

You could change dozens of elements to the current Constitution in a matter of days.....but piecemeal cutting and pasting just won't make people happy without massive discussion and argument.

The comical side of this is that some idiot will quietly go and find a copy of the Bavarian state Constitution and just try to sneak it into the mix......trying to be tricky,  Or you might have some idiot who tries to suggest a state-bird, a state-tree, and a state-beer/apple-wine.

All of this keeps people busy and focused on political talk.....which usually leads onto more political talk, and in the end.....you just have some frustrated people who'd like to sit and drink beer on a quiet afternoon and discuss soccer, DSDS (Germany Seeks Stars), Jungle Camp (the promi's stuck in a jungle setting), the VW diesel affair, some new reality TV show, and some pro or anti immigrant topic.

Maybe the Hessen Constitution needs a rewrite....but you don't need 5.99 million people helping to make this happen.  At best, you need six legal minds and a couple of historians.....quietly settled in some beachfront hotel in Spain.....with a fair amount of alcohol.....to write a simplistic four-page Constitution.

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