The district of Waldeck-Frankenberg has the right to self-administration, which is guaranteed in the Basic Law. It is thus authorized to regulate all matters of the local community in the district area on its own responsibility within the framework of the law. Like the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany and the Constitution of the State of Hesse for the state, the Hessian County Code (HKO) and the Hessian Municipal Code (HGO) contain the constitutional law for the counties and the cities and municipalities. The district acts through its organs, the district council and the district committee. Decisions are made in both bodies, which the district committee must execute with the help of the administration.
As the supreme body of the district, the district council makes all important decisions. It determines the guidelines for district policy. It is also responsible for supervising the entire administration. It extends exclusively to the local administration (not to the functions incumbent on the district administrator as an authority of the state administration) and can take various forms. The county committee, on the other hand, is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the county.
Basic decisions made by the county council include, for example:
- Adoption of the budget statutes and the resolution on the budget
- Issuance, amendment and repeal of bylaws
- Conducting the elections assigned to the district council by law (district councillors, district committee, etc.)
- Adoption of resolutions on the establishment, expansion, takeover and sale of public institutions and economic enterprises, as well as the participation in them
- Issuing general principles, guidelines and plans according to which the administration is to be conducted
Mode of operation
The district council meets at least four times a year. To ensure that every citizen can attend the meetings as an audience member, the dates are advertised to the public. The county council chairman invites the county council to the meeting. The agenda included in the invitation specifies the topics to be discussed by the county council. The agenda is drawn up by the county council chairperson together with the county committee. The agenda may include:
- Major requests
- the question time
- Submissions of the county committee (administrative items)
- Reports of the district council committees on motions or submissions
The seating arrangement in the district council is based on the seating arrangement in the state and federal parliaments. It is based on developments that can be traced back to the French Revolution. After the fall of Napoleon, the classic distinction between "left" and "right" was formed in the French Chamber of Deputies. This seating arrangement gave rise to the designation of political party factions. In all parliamentary groups, the chairmen - and, if available, the members of the parliamentary group executive committee - sit in the front row. The distribution of the remaining seats is handled differently in the individual parliamentary groups - for example, according to the order of the district council members on the election proposals for the district election.
The procedure for deliberations and resolutions in the district council is governed by the provisions of the Hessian County Code (HKO), the Hessian Municipal Code (HGO) and the rules of procedure for the district council. The chairman of the district council then opens the meeting and establishes the quorum of the district council. A quorum exists if more than half of the statutory number of members of the district council is present. Thus, out of 71 deputies, at least 36 deputies must attend the meeting. If fewer deputies are present, the district parliament has no quorum. It cannot pass any resolutions with legal effect. Prior to the discussion of the first item on the agenda, the county council has the possibility to add further items to the agenda, to change the order of the items, to cancel items on the agenda and to set the speaking time for the individual items on the agenda. This requires a resolution of the district council.
The Rules of Procedure contain provisions on the limitation of speaking time in the County Council. The aim of these regulatory provisions is to limit the duration of county council meetings. The Council of Elders may agree on an equal speaking time for all political groups for individual items on the agenda of the county council meeting. The agreement shall be announced to the county council at the beginning of the meeting by the chairman of the county council. The county council has the option to change the speaking time set by the council of elders by resolution. The county committee must be heard at any time on the subject of the negotiations. As a rule, it too shall not exceed the speaking time set for a parliamentary group. If the county committee claims a longer speaking time than that set for the individual parliamentary groups, the speaking time for the parliamentary groups shall also be extended accordingly. In addition, there are further special regulations for parliamentary groups.
After the speaking time limits of the individual agenda items have been regulated, the chairman of the county council calls the individual agenda items for discussion and thus opens the debate. No member of the district council may speak unless the district council chairman has given him the floor. Depending on the nature of the agenda item, the course of deliberation may vary. Motions are first justified by the proposer. The debate on the respective motion then follows. In the case of major questions, after the item on the agenda has been called, the requesting parliamentary group is given the floor to explain its reasons. If necessary, further requests to speak follow. Proposals of the county committee are justified by the chairman of the county committee or the responsible department head - unless this has already been done sufficiently in written form. If district council committees have discussed a district committee bill, the opinion of the district committee is followed by the committee reports. The committee chairmen are the rapporteurs.
As a rule, the district council adopts its resolutions by a simple majority of votes. Only in special cases is a majority or a 2/3 majority of the legal number of votes required. Resolutions may be based on motions, proposed resolutions of the district committee or the district council committees, amendments and points of order. Voting shall not take place until the deliberations have been concluded. Voting shall be by show of hands. The chairman of the county council shall determine the result of the vote. A roll-call vote shall take place at the request of a parliamentary group or at the request of at least 20 members of the district council. Then each member of the district council shall be asked by the chairman of the district council whether he agrees with the respective resolution proposal, rejects it or abstains from voting. The minutes of the meeting shall then record how each deputy voted.
The district council is elected by the residents of the Waldeck-Frankenberg district who are entitled to vote.Every German who has reached the age of 18 on election day and has lived in the district area for at least three months is entitled to vote. One speaks here of the active right to vote. Since 2001, the district council has been elected for a period of 5 years (election period), with the election period beginning on April 1. Previously, the electoral period lasted 4 years. The number of deputies varies in the individual Hessian counties, as it is based on the number of county residents. In the district of Waldeck-Frankenberg, 71 deputies are to be elected. Eligible to be elected as members of the district council are those eligible to vote who have reached the age of 18 on election day and have been resident in the district for at least six months. This is the passive right to vote.
Since the local elections in 2001, voters have been able to cast as many votes as there are seats to be allocated; in doing so, they can give each candidate up to three votes (cumulative voting) and thus influence the order of the candidates on their preferred election proposal. In addition, they no longer have to choose a particular party or electoral group in the election, but can cast their votes for candidates from different election proposals (panache). However, as before, they can of course also vote for a list as a whole and in an unchanged order if they like it as presented.
The election proposals for the election of the district council shall be drawn up by the parties and groups of voters. The election proposals must bear the name of the party or group of voters as a password so that they can be clearly distinguished from each other and each voter is aware of which of the parties or groups of voters he is voting for. Each election proposal may contain any number of candidates. The candidates for the election proposals shall be nominated by secret ballot at a general meeting of the party or electoral group.
After the election has been held, the 71 seats for members of parliament must be distributed among the parties and electoral groups that took part in the election. Under the new municipal election law, proportional representation will continue to apply. This means that the number of seats allocated to the individual election proposals is determined by the ratio of votes cast for the individual parties and electoral groups. When it comes to casting votes, the focus is now on personal votes. With the possibility of casting personal votes, voters gain a direct influence on which candidates of an election proposal receive seats: The decisive factor is the number of votes they receive from the electorate - not the list position determined by the party. There is no longer a 5% threshold.
County Council Chairman
The duties of the chairman of the district council are derived from the provisions of municipal law, above all from the Hessian District Code (HKO). According to these, he must set the agenda, the meeting time and place for the plenary sessions in close consultation with the county committee and the council of elders and invite the members of the county council to the meetings, observing the statutory time limits and formal requirements.
A significant part of the work of the district council takes place in the parliamentary groups. They are the associations of members of the district council. They are represented externally by the chairperson of the parliamentary group.
The district council shall form committees from among its members to prepare its resolutions. They are auxiliary bodies of the district council to which certain matters may also be delegated for final decision-making.
Council of Elders
The Council of Elders of the Waldeck-Frankenberg district plans, coordinates and controls the functioning of the district council. It is composed of the chair of the district council and the district council factions.