1. basic issues
1.1 democracy, power and property
The most comprehensive freedom of the greatest possible number of people (while considering the rights
of minorities!) needs as a base a democratic structure of society. In order that democracy works well, the forming
power of the democratic institutions must be much greater than the power of persons or small groups through property.
This power through property is used especially by big companies. With economic democracy such power can be reduced.
[About property see also appendix A.]
1.2 from 2 groups to 3 groups
For this proposal I start from the existing method in German companies that have more than 2000 employees:
In the SB (that elects and controls the BoM) half of the seats is elected by shareholders, the other half is elected by
employees. If a voting is undecided, then the chairperson of the SB has two votes in a repeated voting; this is very
important, because the representatives of the shareholders can elect her/him alone and therefore can also make
decisions alone (e.g. can elect the BoM alone).
[More about it: see appendix B.]
The proposal presented here has a third group that can elect members into the SB: the population. No group dominates the others.
2. consequences of this proposal
2.1 in a single company
- Because there are no clear majorities, one-sided positions can hardly be carried through. Whether it is about high profits for the shareholders or about high salaries for the employees: Both interest groups do not have the majority to make such decisions alone (because they do not have the majority to elect the BoM alone).
- The representatives of the group "population" can mediate in conflicts between shareholders and employees.
- If shareholders and employees agree, then the representatives of the group "population" can't carry through anything.
- The representatives of the group "population" are most responsible to their voters. Therefore social interests now play a greater role in the decisions of the company.
- Through the personal contact with the representatives of the group "population" and through the lost of the majority, it is becoming more normal for the representatives of the shareholders, to deal with social issues, human rights and ecology.
2.2 stronger democratic influence on the economy regionally, nationally and internationally
- Policymakers can no longer be set so easily under pressure by shareholders. For instance, to make pressure for lower corporate taxes, there can no longer be so easily threats of the relocation of plants, as it is enforced not only by shareholders.
- By including financial values for the application of this co-determination, also companies are included, that have only few employees but big financial power. So this co-determination is applied to financially strong holdings, fund companies and banks, even when these companies have only few employees.
- Lobbying: The interests behind the lobbying of a company are wider, and so more balanced. (Also: In the future we probably must distinguish between general business associations and business associations representing only shareholders.)
- High-tech companies: When in such a company there are many employees,
- who see themselves as elite that knows what is good for the rest of mankind,
- or who do not care for most people,
- the population as 3rd group
- and the part of the employees-representatives that is also elected by employees who do not work in the respective company.
- Transparency: more social groups have a deeper insight into companies. Especially SB-representatives of the group population can not afford not to care about transparency requirements of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
- For single projects of a company it becomes more likely that the interests of directly affected groups and individuals are considered appropriately. If representatives of the group population do not respect the affected groups enough, they will lose voters.
- through their co-determination in big companies;
- through the connections of the SB-members of the group population to (politically related) decision-makers in other democratic bodies and to civil society groups;
- and through the cooperation of many political groupings that take part in this co-determination:
To support the own interests as strong as possible (e.g. to get SB-seats in the biggest international
companies), political groups must unite in international political groups. Obvious are alliances corresponding to
party political groups like Socialists / Social Democrats, Conservatives, Liberals, Greens; but also international
alliances of other civil society organizations (NGOs) can make sense.
If the biggest of these international groups can agree on common aims, then through them can be acted on economy internationally and globally, e.g. with regard to social issues, human rights, ecology, taxes.
3. size of a company
- value, value of the shares, turnover, balance sheet total of a company;
- especially in financial companies: value of property, that they manage for their customers.
|big companies||medium-sized companies|
|ratio of votes in the SB||⅓ : ⅓ : ⅓||½ : ¼ : ¼
(½ = shareholders)
|employees||more than 1000||100 - 1000|
|financial values||over A||1/10 A to A|
To classify a company as big or medium-sized either the number of employees or the financial value must be reached.
- The ratio of votes of ⅓: ⅓: ⅓ in the SB (+ paragraphs 4.2 and 4.4) prevents, that the company is subordinated to a combine.
- Would you, for example, divide big companies into companies that have only one 10th of the original size, then some of these smaller companies would still be big enough for the co-determination with the ratio ⅓: ⅓: ⅓ in the SB.
- A group of companies in which the same person or group has larger shares;
- a group of companies that are formally independent, but operate under a common corporate identity;
- the technology used or the product produced of a company involves special risks.
In the first two points the financial values and the employees of these companies can be added together to exceed a financial or staff threshold.
4. Election procedures
4.1 Population: distribution of 1/3 of the SB-seats by them
- citizens directly
- or representatives of the population at the local or regional level. The votes of the voters are then
weighted according to how many citizens are represented by a voter.
Example 1: In Germany, those representatives of the population could have the right to vote, who were elected at the municipal level: for counties, cities or neighborhoods.
Example 2: Instead of using existing municipal or regional bodies: Together with the national parliamentary election another election takes place, where at the local or regional level persons are elected who participate in the SB-elections.
- Or both with: the lesser the direct participation of the citizens the more weights the share of votes of their representatives at the local or regional level.
Additional regulations to 4.1 are in Appendix C.
4.2 employees: distribution of 1/3 of the SB-seats by them (+ special cases)
- Only half of the representatives it is, if there is an individual case according to the second point in b).
- The company's employees are free to choose whether these representatives are from within the company or from outside. So they can e.g. flexibly choose sometimes more and sometimes less external labor unionists.
- Directly elected by unions is by default at least 1 representative.
- In special cases it makes sense that half of the employee representatives are directly elected by unions.
Example: finance-companies with high-income employees.
Such companies can have a great influence on society and by this on the great number of employees at other
companies, who earn less. The interests of these worse earning employees are supported by the direct influence
of the unions.
So that half of the employees representatives are directly elected by labor unions (for the benefit of this see also "4.4 chairperson of a SB"), in individual cases this can be set in union meetings with 2/3-majority:
- without time limit in a central international assembly
- or with time limit in a smaller, subordinate assembly; there also faster decisions are to be possible.
For these individual cases also applies: In the SB an odd number of employee representatives is reduced to an even number, so there is 1 employee representative less: If e.g. a SB normally has 5 employee representatives, now only 4 employee representatives remain, 2 of them are directly elected by labor unions.
4.3 shareholders: many different voting procedures are possible
The election process can be different in different states. In the same state it can be different for
different company forms. As an example, here are 2 extremes:
Example 1: A single person has the majority of the shares of a company and alone decides which shareholder representatives become member of the SB.
Example 2: The company is owned by the employees working there. These employees thus elect all shareholder representatives and the employee representatives according to 4.2.a into the SB.
4.4 chairperson of a SB
- on the one hand all shareholders-representatives together with those employees-representatives, who are only elected by employees of the concerning company,
- and on the other hand all population-representatives together with those employees-representatives, who are also elected by employees from outside of the concerning company.
- If there is no 2/3 majority for the chairperson of a SB, then she/he will be elected by the representatives of the group "population" (they are the most neutral group).
- If a voting has resulted in a tie, then the chairperson has an additional vote in a repeated voting.
(Alternative solution: If a voting has resulted in a tie, all representatives of the group population have an additional vote in a repeated voting.)
4.5 alternative and more direct procedures
- Maybe in addition there should be an alternative procedure, where the group population does not exist. This could make sense for companies where the central tasks are forming of opinions and communication of information. See appendix D.1.
- In some companies there could be the wish, to make decisions like e.g. the election of the board of managers not indirectly through the SB, but by direct elections and decisions. Possibilities for this you find in appendix D.2.
5. carrying it through
- The population is added as the 3rd group into the SBs of big companies.
- By default the relation ½ : ¼ : ¼ for medium-sized companies (compare 3.) is obligatory in a SB, also as a minimum standard for the biggest companies.
- But under certain conditions all 3 groups have ⅓ of the votes:
- when a company is by the majority owned by states;
- when a company makes use of special state support;
- or when a company introduces this voluntarily. This voluntariness e.g. can be stimulated by having different tax rates for company taxes, depending on the level of co-determination of a company. Or by considering the level of co-determination when purchasing.
5.2 purchases by state and private clients
- preferring companies that have much co-determination, if there is a choice only between big companies;
- preferring companies whose big suppliers (of goods and services) also have, to an as possible great extent, much co-determination.
- This information can support political aims of parties and political groups (whose candidates are members in SBs as representatives of the group "population"); therefore they are interested in publishing information (especially interesting: differences with respect to the various political directions).
- The representatives of the group "population" are less inclined than the shareholder-representatives to make light of something or to keep something secret.
- Most parties and political groups that are represented in SBs will probably develop standards for their information work. This increases the comparability of the information of different companies.
5.3 companies from states without this co-determination
- The third of the SB-seats that is occupied by the representatives of the group "population" is elected a little differently: In the election that is according to 4.1 there is no national counting of votes (despite of this SB-candidates can come from the state of this company).
- By a decision of the shareholders' meeting this co-determination is fixed in the statute of the company.
A. property and constitution
- the possession of a part of a company ("financial element");
- the right to influence the decisions of a company ("membership powers").
(From the reasons of a verdict from 1999 about the "Montan"-co-determination; see BverfG, 1 BvL 2/91 of
2 March 1999, paragraph no. 77, http://www.bverfg.de.
See also a verdict from 1979 about the co-determination law from 1976; BverfGE 50, 290 [341 ff.].)
B. to 1.2 ("...existing method in German companies,...")
B.1 As addition to the mentioned regulation (from the co-determination law from 1976): Also a representative of the group of the leading/managing employees belongs to the representatives of the employees.
- e.g. at "finance-companies with high-income employees" (compare 4.2). Such companies can have a great influence on society and by this on the great number of employees at other companies, who earn less. Through the "Montan"-co-determination these less earning employees and the society have no influence on these companies; through my proposal they have.
- Interests of the society that don't have much significance in the conflict "shareholders against employees" are not adequately considered.
- Many of the networking and effects mentioned in 2.2 for the democratization of the economy are not achieved by this.
Completion: According to the German law shareholders and employees have not entirely equal rights, when they elect the "neutral" person; through a regulation that twice involves a law court the shareholders can decide alone.
C. completing regulations to 4.1 (on the electoral process of the population)
"Party" is meaning "party or political group" in the following text.
|For all SBs together:||Difference|
|Votes||SB-seats (target → actual)|
|Party A||7.000||7 → 0||-7|
|Party B||13.000||13 → 3||-10|
|Party C||23.000||23 → 28||+5|
|Party D||27.000||27 → 31||+4|
|Party E||30.000||30 → 38||+8|
|Votes of party B||300||300||400||500||600||300|
|Votes of Party E||1200||1300||900||600||1000||500|
|Preliminary seats of party E||1||2||1||1||1||1|
|Votes per seat of party E||1200||650||900||600||1000||500|
|(E-B)*100/E difference of votes||75%||54%||56%||17%||40%||40%|
- Companies from the same country or the same region are first put into the same ranking list.
- The 10 companies with the biggest financial value (e.g. stock value or turnover) are put into the same ranking list. For somewhat smaller companies (ranked 11-20, 21-30) is is similar.
- Companies with similar businesses are put into the same ranking list.
- if its votes, which are not already used for other SB-seats, are less then the votes that the first owner of the SB-seat got;
- or if an other party with too less SB-seats has more votes for this SB and gets the SB-seat according to C.1.b;
- or if a party with too many SB-seats has given its surplus SB-seats (e.g. the 5 seats of party C under C.1.a) already before in a ranking list;
- or if it has already a SB-seat in the same SB;
- or (in rather small SBs) if the party, that shall lose a SB seat, has already lost a SB-seat in the same SB through C.1.b;
- if its list of candidates has less than 5% of the votes of the SB;
- or according to C.2.b;
- or according to C.4.
- The calculation of "Votes per seat" in C.1.b considers also SB-seats that were gained by national votes.
- To calculate how many seats a party of a ranking list has too much or too few: The total numbers of votes (for every single party and for all parties of a ranking list together) do not only include the seats distributed by international votes, but also the seats distributed by national votes. Seats gained by national votes can not be lost.
- In a list of candidates: The unsuccessful candidate of a list who has the most votes after a successful candidate is substitute for the SB.
- Even a small party can get more SB-seats than corresponding to its share of votes for all SBs of a ranking list together; especially when they compete in joint candidate lists of several parties. A small party loses SB-seats in the same way, as the big parties C, D and E in C.1.b.
- To achieve that the number of votes of a party for all SBs together can be determined: Each candidate is identified as a representative of a party or several parties. If a candidate is marked as a representative of several parties, then her/his votes are attributed to these parties equally.
- If a SB-seat that was won by a joint list of candidates is lost by C.1.b, then this is only possible, if all parties of this candidate list together in all SBs of a ranking list have more SB-seats than they are entitled to according to their percentage (so not solely the party matters the candidate is assigned to).
C.3 For the SB-seats that are elected with national votes (compare 4.1.e) the following special regulation is applied:
With a 2/3-majority in an international parliamentary assembly (see C.6.a) and more than ½ of the votes of a
states-body it can be decided, that for single companies the distribution of SB-seats by national votes does not apply.
The so far national seats then are distributed internationally.
Example for usage: A big international company has its headquarters in a small state that is financially very dependent on this company. Thus this company has a big influence on the government, the population and the legislative processes, by which it obtains unfair advantages over companies that have their headquarters in other states.
- the list of candidates has at least 3/4 of the votes
- or the list of candidates has at least 2/3 of the votes and is a joint list of parties that together have at least 2/3 of all delegates of (see C.6.a) an international parliamentary assembly.
As a comparison: it is not uncommon, when in the general meeting of a company all SB-members of the shareholders can be elected by a simple majority of the voting capital.
- This is not valid for single cases according to C.3. In such cases there is no threshold for "extraordinary few votes", it also should not be needed in these cases.
"Extraordinary few votes" could e.g. mean that the SB of a company gets less than about 10-20% of those votes, that are given on average to a company of the same size and the same region.
D. alternative and more direct election and decision procedures
- The company must be a cooperative, that is every member has the same amount of votes. So a member with a bigger financial stake does not have more votes. (In addition: For cooperatives in other fields of company activity still only the 3-groups-co-determination is used.)
A big company must have at least 100,000 members. Or in more detail:
big companies medium-sized companies members more than 100,000 10,000 - 100,000 employees more than 1000 100 - 1000 financial values over A 1/10 A to A
- The central task of the company must be communication of information and forming of opinions.
- E.g. during the election of the board of managers the shareholders and the employees of the company could vote themselves. Their votes are weight according to their proportion of vote in the SB.
- Such a procedure is not useful for the population-representatives and for the
employees-representatives according to 4.2.b. For those the alternatives are:
- They use their voting right as ever
- or they can voluntarily give off their voting right. E.g. for some votings every population-representative can voluntarily give his voting right to all shareholders. So for every company separately a reaction is possible, whether rather a very close cooperation with the shareholders is appropriate (e.g. because the company is a cooperative and a big part of the voters of a population-representative are members and their relatives and acquaintances) or rather more distance to them.
D.3 local utility companies for energy and water: For these it can be considered, whether rather D.1 or D.2 is appropriate (both alternatives are possible also for communal or municipal companies). One could think of a solution similar to D.1, the consumers would then correspond to the members. This way the consumers could e.g. elect the board of management directly. But energy and water are often not obtained at the location where the customers of a utility company live. This rather speaks in favor of the use of D.2, because through the population-representatives also those people can be represented, that live near the sources of energy and water.
E. additional points
For E.1 till E.3 in addition the more direct co-determination according to D.2 can be used.
E.1 Profit of an enterprise: The SB decides on how the profit of an enterprise is used.
E.2 Increase or decrease of capital (e.g. Issue of new shares): For this majorities are necessary in the SB and the shareholders' meeting.
E.3: Relocation of the headquarters of an enterprise to an other state: For this majorities are necessary in the SB and the shareholders' meeting.