The Area Schleswig-Holstein lies at the top of Germany between Denmark in the north, Hamburg in the south, the North Sea in the west and the Baltic Sea in the east. Schleswig-Holstein has some 2.800.000 citizens.
The state (Bundesland) Schleswig-Holstein is one of 16 states in the Federal Republic of Germany. According to the federal constitution the states bear responsibility for educational and cultural politics, the police and the implementation of federal policies, which are decided by the federal government and the national parliament (Bundestag). In the second national chamber, the so called federal council (Bundesrat), the state governments take influence on federal legislation.
The "Landtag" in Kiel is the state parliament of Schleswig-Holstein. The Landtag elects the state prime minister and passes the state laws. Since 2012 Schleswig-Holstein has been ruled by a coalition government of social democrats (SPD), the green party (Die Grünen) and SSW. The prime minister is the social democratic Mr Torsten Albig.
The Danish minority in Schleswig-Holstein - a remainder from the time before 1864, when Schleswig-Holstein belonged to Denmark - has its own political party, the South Schleswig Voters' Committee (Südschleswigscher Wählerverband, SSW). The SSW also takes care of the political affairs of the national Friesians, who live in the area North-Friesia at the North Sea coast of the state.
The German electoral laws provide that parties of the Danish minority are exempt from the minimum of 5 % of the votes, which is usually necessesary to enter German parliaments at state and federal level. But there is still a minimum amount of votes which the SSW must achieve: The party needs at least as many votes as the last (and "cheapest") seat in parliament will "cost" according to the allocation mechanism of the proportional representation system. Usually the Landtag has 69 seats, which means that the SSW usually needs some 20.000 votes to get a seat if there is an average voter turnout.
The SSW has been represented in the Schleswig-Holstein Landtag since 1947 - with a short break from 1954-58. Since the beginning of the 1980s the amount of SSW-votes at Landtag-elections has been increasing.
At the election in 1996 the SSW got 38.000 votes, which meant that the party for the first time since the 1960s achieved two seats in the Landtag. In the years 2000-2005 the SSW - based on the best election outcome since 1950 (60.367 votes, 4.1 %) - even provided for three members of the state parliament.
At the election in 2005 the SSW got 3,6 % of the votes. The minority party was represented in the 16th Schleswig-Holstein Landtag by Ms Anke Spoorendonk and Mr Lars Harms (photo).
At the election in 2009 the SSW got 4,3 % of the votes and was represented in the "Landtag" by Ms Anke Spoorendonk, Mr Lars Harms, Mr Flemming Meyer and Ms Silke Hinrichsen.
After the elections 2012 (SSW: 4,6%) the SSW joined the government of Schleswig-Holstein with SPD and Die Grünen. Ms Anke Spoorendonk became minister for justice, culture and Europe.
Actually the SSW is represented in the state parliament by Mr Lars Harms, Ms Jette Waldinger-Thiering and Mr Flemming Meyer.
The SSW has not nominated candidates for federal German elections since 1965.
The SSW is also represented in regional and local councils in South-Schleswig by a total of 161 members. In some areas the SSW has an important political influence due to the fact that Danish and Friesian politicians tip the scale in some councils.
The SSW proclaims policies which respond closely to the societal and political development in the Nordic countries. The party aims at giving the Schleswig-Holstein politics new impulses on these conditions - e. g. in labour market, social, educational and energy policies. The SSW stands for a decentralized democratic life, as it is carried out in the Scandinavian countries: Political decisions must be made as close to the citizens as possible, and the citizens may have the possibility to take direct influence on the decisions.