Members of the State Parliament – Rights and obligations

Abgeordnete einer Fraktion sitzen auf ihren Plätzen im Plenarsaal und arbeiten an Unterlagen und Computern.

Committed to all the people

The constitution states that the Members of the State Parliament represent all the people – not just their own voters. They are not bound to orders and instructions, but are solely subject to their conscience. Those elected to Parliament should be free to act politically without coercion or intimidation. For this reason, MPs have special obligations, but also special protection rights.

The obligations of elected representatives:

  • they must cooperate and participate; in this respect the rights of participation and involvement (as explained below) are also obligations of the MPs.
  • They are obliged to maintain order in Parliament. Order is enforced by the President.
  • Members of the State Parliament are not allowed to accept benefits.
  • They must refrain from abusive practices and preclude conflicts of interest in their mandate.
The media in particular ensure that MPs fulfil their obligations.
The media in particular ensure that MPs fulfil their obligations. (© Focke Strangmann)

Those who have obligations also need rights

These rights of MPs are designed to protect them from any overbearing of state power and its law enforcement agencies, as well as from the pressure that influential third parties can exert on them. Some of these rights have a long tradition. The right to immunity, for example, dates back to the beginning of the French Revolution in June 1789. At that time the delegates to the newly constituted National Assembly were afraid that King Louis XVI would have them arrested. The resolution they passed that granted delegates immunity did not mean that they could commit crimes without being punished. The National Assembly reserved the right to investigate a delegate itself or – in the event that they were caught red-handed – to decide, following a review of judicial inquest methods, whether there were grounds for prosecution. This resolution by the National Assembly of 26 June 1790 is considered to be the birth of the right to immunity that still exists today. These extensive protection rights are not, however, a carte blanche for MPs: the State Parliament can bring charges against any of its MPs in the Constitutional Court for abusing their position for pecuniary gain. If the Constitutional Court decides to prosecute, the accused MP loses their seat.

Protection rights

Rights of participation and involvement