Yes, says Laura Sophia Jung

World author Laura Sophia Jung

Source: Martin UK Lengemann / WELT

If the pandemic year has taught us one thing, it is that man is not just a wolf to man, but that this wolf is above all an animal of habit.

After the distribution struggles over toilet paper and masks in spring, people came together in packs (households) and settled down as best they could.


The ability of humans to fall back into routine as quickly as possible, even in completely new situations, is admirable and makes sense from an evolutionary point of view.

Habits make life easier, comfort makes it worth living.

My pack has been ordering from the same six restaurants alternately for 15 months.

Every Friday.

Most of the time we even order the same.

Are we missing out on something better?


Do we avoid bad slip-ups?


Is that a model by which politics should work?


In politics, habit and comfort are dangerous.

It is therefore not enough to theoretically give people a choice.

You have to encourage them to keep making really new decisions.

That is only possible if you limit the number of terms of office of Federal Chancellors.


Because even if voters do not choose the Chancellor (or of course the Chancellor) directly: which party they choose depends heavily on the people with whom they associate this party.

After eight years at the latest, voters should therefore be faced with the question: What do we really want?

And that without the decision-making being influenced by the fact that you have to weigh an acquaintance against an unknown.

Limitation means appreciation

It takes a really open race. This shows the voters how important their vote is. In any case, after the election it will not stay the way it was. Thanks to the limited term of office, the elected person is given to understand that chancellorship is not a popularity contest. It's not about saving yourself to the next round with consolation and promises. It's about using the time you've been given by the voters. Once, maybe twice. That's it.

Many interpret term limits as a distrust of the elected.

Historically, that's the way it is - and for good reason.

The principle makes it clear who is sovereign in a democracy: the people.

But it is also a signal of appreciation.

The chancellorship is exhausting, nerve-wracking, an immense burden.

Nobody should be expected to last longer than eight years.


The past few years have shown that there are many reasons why a chancellor agrees to run again.

The will to shape things and the desire to govern are unfortunately not always at the top of the list.

No, thinks Torsten Krauel

World author Torsten Krauel

Source: Claudius Pflug

What would the Federal Republic look like if its chancellors had only ever had eight years in office? Adenauer should have resigned in 1957, the fight for his successor would have started after his re-election in 1953 - in the middle of the debate about joining NATO. In the summer of 1956, the SPD overtook the Union with a sharp course of neutrality. His own potential successors would have tried to slow down Adenauer, NATO accession might have failed. Adenauer would have played co-chancellor in Rhöndorf. His likely successor, NRW Prime Minister Karl Arnold (CDU), died of a heart attack in June 1958.

Or cabbage.

He would have had to resign in 1990, his opponents would have fought for his post immediately after the 1987 election - because the fear of being sidelined by Kohl would have disappeared.

They wanted to remove reunification from the CDU program, because they considered it a dangerous relic.

The unity only came because Kohl fought for it, because Bush Senior and Gorbachev blindly trusted him - and were confident that he would stay until at least 1994.

Or Schröder.

If his opponents had been able to count on the end of his office in 2006 in 2002 - the Hartz reforms that helped Germany during the financial crisis would never have come about.

Oskar Lafontaine would have seen his hour coming, in the SPD instead of the Left.

Or Merkel.

From 2009 to 2013 you should have governed not only with a broken FDP, but also with a union that was divided in the succession struggle.

Would you have been able to push through the EU reform course during the financial crisis?



And how is an incomplete first term of office evaluated because a successor has to step in, as was the case with Schmidt in 1974?

Is it excluded from the calculation of the legal term of office?

Then the temptation grows to overthrow the Chancellor prematurely.

The threat of permanent power struggle

Germany cannot afford such permanent instability. It has proportional representation and is therefore a coalition democracy. Coalitions are held together by chancellors who develop their authority and sometimes subdue the coalition partners, sometimes their own party. A term limit only works in countries with majority voting rights or in presidential democracies, where incumbents have many more rights than ours and can often control and exercise through decrees.

The service limit applies to federal presidents. Even then, the search for a successor is a strangle, and that with a function without real powers. Temporary chancellors become revolving-door chancellors, and because the states would also introduce a term limit, there would be an ongoing federal power struggle. The result: party leaders and state secretaries, both with no term limits, are attracting long-term politics. We would not have one, but many Federal Chancellors - and with it the programmed chaos.