Why is 2020 so important

It is usually not necessary to fill places early. On most days, the spectator galleries in the two city council meeting rooms are not noticeable because of overcrowding - only with selected topics it is sometimes a bit narrower. You can learn a lot about things that are happening on your own doorstep or are about to happen in the near future. But local politics is obviously not a hipster issue. Since the first local elections in 1946, voter turnout has plummeted from 85 percent to just 42 percent in 2014 - 58 percent of those in Munich who are eligible to vote have given up their most important communal influence.

For comparison: Almost 73 percent of Munich's residents took part in the 2018 state elections, and 78.5 percent in the federal election a year earlier. Even the European elections, often smiled at because of their low popularity, came in 2019 to 65.4 percent. It's a bit astonishing. Because of course it is important whether there will be a no-deal Brexit and how the next pension reform will be shaped. Only: What is decided in the palatial building on Marienplatz directly affects the everyday life of most people in Munich.

And the Bavarian local electoral law also has a particularly charming type of influence that does not exist in elections at other levels: Each voter has 80 votes, which he can distribute to individual applicants - so you can put together your own city council, as it were desired opposition. It's not uncomplicated, but those who shy away from too extensive preoccupation with the square meter ballot can take a shortcut and simply cross a list.

Another special feature is the direct election of the mayor, who thus receives a position of power in the local community that is not even held by the chancellor, who is dependent on parliament, at the federal level. In addition, the city hall boss not only works in the city council, approves the agendas there, chairs meetings and represents Munich externally. He is also the top head of the city administration, which is allowed to make many smaller everyday business decisions on its own. The city council cannot influence this, but the mayor can.

The importance of the city council resolutions cannot be overestimated

The two mayors, on the other hand, who work on fixed topics, also lead meetings and otherwise represent the mayor, are elected from the city council. And then there are the "city ministers", the speakers who are also not elected by the people of Munich, but by the city council. They are the heads of the specialist authorities such as district administration, municipal, social or environmental departments, but have no voting rights in the city council.

On March 15, 2020, the date of the next local elections, it is not just about who is allowed to spread out in the parliamentary groups and meeting rooms of the town hall for six years. The members of the 25 district committees can also be elected, although they only have limited decision-making powers. They represent, so to speak, the lowest communal level, which deals with the concerns of the immediate neighborhood in the city district. The link between the city council and the district committees is close - if only because city hall politicians always sit down with the district committee members at their party's local meetings.