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Election Regulations

The Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina e.V. (hereinafter referred to as the Academy), which was appointed the German National Academy of Sciences by the Joint Science Conference (GWK) of Germany and its states on 18 February 2008, adopted the following Election Regulations on the basis of and as a supplement to its statutes in a Senate decision of 19 September 2013:

§ 1 Election of Members

The election of new members enhances the Academy as regards science and research. Members are elected by an extended Presidium, which is selected especially for this purpose, in co‐ordination with the Presidium, the Classes and the Sections.

A. Basic principles

1. Members are elected via the Academy’s individual specialised Sections. Nominations should be sent to the Academy office. In order to elect members, each Section appoints a working group comprised of the Section representative or senator and in general at least two to three other members of the Section. This working group meets at least once a year and prepares a list of a certain number of proposed candidates on behalf of the Section or Sub-sections in accordance with Part B of these Election Regulations. A member of the Academy office staff assists each Section. The working groups should ensure that minutes are taken at any sessions where proposed candidates are discussed. These minutes form part of the election procedure.

2. Nominations may be submitted by any full or corresponding member of the Leopoldina, and should be in writing, contain detailed reasons for the proposal, and be signed by at least two other members. These election proposals should also be discussed by the Section working group.

3. After consulting the Section representative, the Presidium may propose further candidates for inclusion in the ongoing election procedure at the level of the Section working groups.

4. The election procedure is based on the results of member voting (rankings) in the Sections (First Reading).

5. The proposed candidates and the results of the First Reading are then discussed (Second Reading) at the respective Class sessions, which rank candidates in order of preference.

6. The ballot (Third Reading) takes place in the Presidium, which is extended for this purpose to include the relevant Class spokesperson and the relevant Section representative, both of whom have a vote. If the elected Class or Section member is unable to attend, a representative may be nominated. For the Class, this may be any other member of the Class; for the Section, another member of the relevant Section working group may attend. Should the need arise, the Presidium may obtain further expert opinion.

7. The proposed candidates should have outstanding academic achievements. There is no age limit.

8. In consultation with the Senate, the Presidium defines the number of full members below the age of 75 for each Class (benchmark). Once a member turns 75, their place is vacated and can be assigned to someone else. The rights of these members are not affected.

9. A member may apply to be relieved of his or her duties for a limited or unlimited period of time. The Presidium decides on the outcome of such applications. All voting rights and all duties then expire. If a member is permanently released from his or her duties, his or her place becomes vacant for a new member.

B. Election procedure

First reading

1. The Section representative compiles the nominations prepared by or submitted to the Section working group into a list of proposed candidates. This list includes their curriculum vitae, the reasons for election / encomia, as well as an overview of their five to ten most important publications. The list (and appendix) is sent to all full and corresponding members of the Section or Sub-section along with a rating form for written evaluation.

2. The Section members, who were selected according to the Election Regulations, evaluate the candidates (First Reading) using a points system:

  • 5 (election is very high priority)
  • 4 (election is high priority)
  • 3 (election is medium priority)
  • 2 (election is low priority)
  • 1 (election is very low priority)
  • Rejection (reasons for rejection are to be provided in all cases)

Abstentions are not permitted.

Within the stipulated period, members return their rating forms, which are treated confidentially, to the Academy office along with a statement giving the reasons for their votes. The votes and comments are collected by the election secretariat. The forms are treated as highly confidential and are only available in their original form to the election secretariat, the President, the Class secretary and the relevant Section representative. The election secretariat provides the members of the Class and the Presidium with an overview showing the average voting scores, their distribution and any comments, which are presented anonymously.

Candidates may only be considered for the Second Reading if three quarters of the full and corresponding members of a Section or Sub-section who have not reached the age of 75 have voted.

If an insufficient number of rating forms is returned on several occasions, Section representatives have the option of suggesting to the President that a letter be sent to all members who have repeatedly failed to complete the rating forms, recommending that they apply to be relieved of their duties for a limited or unlimited period of time.

3. Once a year, each Section representative draws up a list ranking the candidates in order according to the Section members’ evaluations, and sends it to the relevant Presidium member along with his or her comments.

4. The relevant Presidium member or the Presidium can also obtain further expert opinion from members outside the voting Section and from non‐members.

Second Reading

5. The Section representatives present the nominations and a report on the outcome and circumstances of the election procedure so far to the Class session. All the relevant Sections representatives attend the Class session, which is chaired by the elected Class spokesperson, or by his or her deputy in the event that he or she is unable to attend. The relevant member of the Presidium and a research associate are invited to the Class sessions as guests. Minutes must be taken at the Class election session.

6. Annex I of these Election Regulations shows how the Sections are assigned to the Classes.

7. All the candidates are discussed during the Class session. They are ranked in order on the basis of the number of places available and in consideration of how scientific specialisations should best be spread across the relevant Section. The final vote, which is also possible in blocks, is a secret ballot. Each Section has one vote  if several representatives of a Section are present, they should decide in advance who will cast the vote. Sections that do not send a representative to the Class session may not vote.

8. All Sections may become members of a second Class. In this case, they cannot vote and may only contribute in an advisory capacity.

Third Reading

9. The Presidium decides on the election of individual candidates to each Class at an extended session (in accordance with § 1, 6) once a year. Voting on each candidate takes place in secret. After discussing all the candidates for a particular Section, the Presidium votes on these candidates; this process is then repeated for each Section. During the vote, each member decides whether to elect, reject or defer (yes/no) each candidate. In order to be elected, a candidate requires positive votes from two thirds of the members of the eligible voters present. The members of the Presidium, the relevant Class spokespersons and the relevant Section representative for the Section that the proposed candidate would join if elected are entitled to vote. The extended Presidium has a quorum when at least eight members of the Presidium, a representative of the Class and a representative of the relevant Section are present. At least six of the eight or more members present must vote for a candidate in order for his or her election to be valid. Abstentions are not permitted. Where possible, the relevant Class spokesperson and at least one representative of each Section should be present at the session.

10. The President writes to the elected candidates to inform them of their election, to explain in detail the aims, structures and tasks of the Leopoldina, and to ask them if they are prepared to play an active role in achieving the Academy’s goals.

11. The election is complete when a candidate agrees in writing to accept membership and to work on behalf of the Academy. The Class spokesperson, the Section representative, the nominating person and the members of the Section are informed of the result.

12. Any technical or administrative details are clarified in specific guidelines on the election procedure.

§ 2 Election of Section representatives

1. All of the full and corresponding members of a Section or Sub-section elect a representative for their Section or Sub-Section in a secret written ballot, which is usually conducted by post. All full members are eligible for election and may be re-elected once, regardless of their age. Section representatives are elected for a term of four years.

2. The relevant member of the Presidium initiates the voting procedure by writing to all of the members of the Section or Sub-section, explaining the reason for the election. Enclosed with the letter is a ballot paper with a list of the Section members running for election.

3. Each Section member elects his or her preferred Section representative from the list by clearly marking this candidate’s name on the ballot paper and returning the paper to the Academy office within four weeks. The candidate with the highest number of votes is elected Section representative. If two or more members receive the same number of votes, the Presidium makes the final decision. The Presidium is responsible for supervising the election, checking that it complies with the relevant regulations and appointing the Section representative at the end of the process. The deputy Section representative is elected in the same way in a second ballot.

§ 3 Election of Class representatives

1. Each Section is assigned to a Class in accordance with its subject area (see Appendix 1 of these Election Regulations). The Class is the body that brings together the Section representatives once a year for the Second Reading, where they rank the nominations for new members agreed by the Sections in the First Reading.

2. All of the Senators from a Class elect a Class representative in a secret written ballot, which is usually conducted by post. Class representatives are elected for a term of four years and may be re-elected once.

3. Sections may belong to two Classes, but are only entitled to vote in one.

4. The relevant member of the Presidium initiates the voting procedure by sending the list of Class representative candidates on a ballot paper. Class Senators vote by clearly marking their preferred candidate’s name on the ballot paper and returning the paper to the Academy office within four weeks. The candidate with the highest number of votes is elected Class representative. If two or more representatives receive the same number of votes, the Presidium makes the final decision. The Presidium is responsible for supervising the election, checking that it complies with the relevant regulations and appointing the Class representative at the end of the process. The Deputy Class representative is elected in a second ballot.

§ 4 Election of Regional heads

1. The Academy has a Regional Section in both Austria and Switzerland.

2. Members of each Regional Section elect a full member from their region as the Regional head in a secret written ballot, which is usually conducted by post. Prior to the vote, the Presidium obtains the consent of the members eligible for election that they will accept office should they be elected.

3. Regional heads are elected in the same way as Section representatives (see § 3 of these Election Regulations).

§ 5 Election of Senators

1. In accordance with § 7 (1) of the Academy’s statutes, Members elect Section representatives (1a) and Regional heads (1b) as members of the Senate in accordance with § 2 and § 4 of these Election Regulations respectively. The other senators (1c) are elected by the Senate for a term of four years on the recommendation of the Presidium and may be re-elected once.

2. Five of this last group of Senators have a seat and voting rights in the Academy’s Senate as representatives of the scientific community, while another five are ex-officio Presidium representatives of the following institutions

  • German Research Foundation (DFG)
  • Max Planck Society
  • German Rectors’ Conference (HRK)
  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
  • Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities

3. If a Section has only one elected representative, this person also serves as a Senator. In Sections with two or three representatives, all Section members vote to elect one of these representatives as Senator for the entire Section. If there are three Section representatives, the Deputy Senator is elected in a second ballot. If there are two Section representatives, the representative who receives the lower number of votes becomes Deputy Senator.

4. The two Regional heads for Austria and Switzerland also serve as Senators.

§ 6 Election of the Presidium

1. The Senate formed in accordance with § 7 of the Academy’s statutes and § 5 of these Election Regulations elects the Presidium according to § 6(1) of the Academy’s statutes. All full members are eligible for election and may be re-elected once, regardless of their age. The Presidium members are elected for a term of five years and may be re-elected once.

2. The election of the President and Vice-Presidents is prepared by a Selection Committee, which is appointed by the Presidium.

The Selection Committee comprises:

  • the President and the Vice-Presidents (If they are elected, this task will be performed by the Secretary with the most similar areas of responsibility.)
  • the four Class representatives
  • and the two Presidium members from Austria and Switzerland or two other Leopoldina Members.
  • For the election of the President, the Selection Committee also includes three ex-officio Senators.
  • The Secretary General also serves on the Selection Committee in an advisory capacity.
  • The President or the longest-serving Vice President chairs the Selection Committee and has a second vote if there is a parity of votes.

Every Senator and every member of the Presidium is entitled to nominate candidates.

Nominations are submitted to the Selection Committee, which then prepares a proposal and sends it in written form to the members of the Senate in good time before the ballot. Each seat on the Presidium is subject to a separate ballot. It is not possible to vote for several seats at the same time.

3. The Presidium serves as the Selection Committee for the other Presidium members.

4. The ballot is managed by an electoral commission comprised of three members, who are appointed ad hoc by the Senate. The Senate has a quorum if more than half of the Senators are present for the ballot (or take part by post). A candidate is elected if he or she receives over half of the votes. If     none of the candidates receive over half the votes, a second ballot is held to decide between the two candidates who received the most votes in the first ballot. The candidate who gains a simple majority in this vote is elected. If there is a parity of votes, lots are drawn.

§ 7 Termination of membership

Membership is terminated:

1. if a Member dies.

2. if a Member informs the President in writing of his or her withdrawal from the Academy. The     President is entitled to make enquiries to ascertain whether or not the Member is leaving the     Academy of his or her own free will.

3. if a Member is expelled from the Academy.

Expulsion proceedings may be initiated against a Member if at least ten Members apply to the President for a member’s expulsion and give detailed reasons for this request in writing. The President is required to assess the circumstances. He or she should obtain a written statement from the responsible Section representative and, if relevant, the Regional head.  The President then presents the matter to the Presidium, which assesses whether and to what extent the Academy has been harmed. The Member in question should make a written or, if he or she prefers, verbal statement to the President to explain his or her position. If the majority of the Presidium members agree that there are sufficient grounds for expulsion, the Presidium forwards the application and the detailed reasons for it to the Senate. In accordance with § 7 (1) of the Academy’s statutes, the Senate then rules on the expulsion on the basis of a simple majority in a written ballot. This decision is final and appeals may not be lodged.

§ 8 Concluding provisions

These Election Regulations were adopted following a decision by the Senate on 19 September 2013 and replace the previous Election Regulations of 21 September 2012.

Annex I of the Election Regulations of the Leopoldina

Assignment of the Sections to the Classes

Class: Sections No. Name of Section

1. Mathematics
2. Informatics
3. Physics
4. Chemistry
5. Earth Sciences
27. Engineering Sciences

6. Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences
8. Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
9. Genetics/Molecular Biology and Cell Biology
10. Biochemistry and Biophysics
13. Microbiology and Immunology
14. Human Genetics and Molecular Medicine
15. Physiology and Pharmacology/Toxicology

11. Anatomy and Anthropology
12. Pathology and Forensic Medicine
16. Internal Medicine and Dermatology
17. Surgery, Orthopaedics, Anaesthesiology
18. Gynaecology and Paediatrics
19. Neurosciences
20. Ophthalmology, Oto-Rhino-Laryngology and Stomatology
21. Radiology
22. Veterinary Medicine

23. History of Science and Medicine
24. Epistemology
25. Economics and Empirical Social Sciences
26. Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
28. Cultural Sciences

Election Regulations

Election Regulations of the Leopoldina (pdf, status: 19th September 2013):

Election Regulations



Dr. Jörg Beineke

Senior Scientific Coordinator

Phone 0345 - 47 239 - 954
Fax 0345 - 47 239 - 919
E-Mail joerg.beineke @leopoldina.org

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