The West German Legislative Process: A Case Study of Two Transportation Bills

By Gerard Braunthal | Go to book overview

be exempted, then neither should any other sector of the industry, save milk, the League reasoned.33

One theme running through these pleas was the necessity of holding down prices, unless deputies were willing to be exposed to a political cross-fire from the voters. As a result, the deputies counseled the ministers or acted in committee to provide for exemptions, even though these would result in revenue losses.

One regional fruit growers' association even requested its deputy to intercede personally with Seebohm, but the minister, unimpressed by the threat of higher prices, refused to make any concession. From a political viewpoint, he made a mistake in not yielding to the fruit growers, who were powerful in the area where his party also had political power. But from an economic viewpoint, he feared opening up a Pandora's box if he publicly supported one exemption.34


CONCLUSION

This study of interest group pressure in the legislative realm highlights once again certain central themes recurring in the analysis of transport legislation: (1) Interest groups could not apply maximum pressure on the Bundestag, owing to their internal divisions. (2) The cleavage among them re

____________________
33
Deutscher Brauer-Bund, memorandum, March 14, 1955; Landwirtschaft und Ernährungswirtschaft, memoranda, July 5, 1954, March 22, 1955; Verband der Deutschen Milchwirtschaft, Nov. 9, 1954; Arbeitsgemeinschaft deutscher Handelsmühlen, Nov. 29, 1954, March 22, 1955; Zentralverband der Süssmost- und Obstgetränke- Industrie, March 1, 1955.
34
However, Seebohm was inconsistent. In another instance, he was willing to exempt packing materials from the transportation tax, but took pains not to do it publicly. In true political style, he urged a deputy of his own party to introduce the exemption proposal in committee, and if the deputy was unsuccessful there, then to make another attempt in the BT plenary session (cited in letters by Heinrich Hellwege to Seebohm, Feb. 3, 1955; Feb. 21, 1955).

-176-

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