GERMANY >> POLITICAL SYSTEM

FLAG-AND-FLAG.COM


POLITICAL SYSTEM

Germany is a federal parliamentary republic. The nation is based on representative democracy. Germany is made up of 16 states and has five permanent constitutional bodies: The Federal President, the Bundestag, the Bundesrat, the Federal Government and the Federal Constitutional Court.

 

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH:  The Bundestag (Germany's parliament) and the Bundesrat

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH: The Federal President (the head of state) and the Federal Chancellor

   

 JUDICIAL BRANCH: The Federal Constitutional Court

 

These constitutional bodies ensure the separation of powers. Furthermore, the power is divided nationally which means that many powers are reserved for the 16 states. The Bundestag is directly elected by the German people. The Bundesrat represents the 16 states. Both the Bundestag and the Reichstag form the legislative and are involved in lawmaking.

The role of the Federal President of Germany is mostly ceremonial. The president is the head of state and  represents the Federal Republic of Germany. The president is elected for a term of five years. The president has not the greatest political power in Germany's political system but is the nation's  most senior representative. Traditionally, the president keeps a distance from day-to-day politics. All Germans who are entitled to vote in Bundestag elections and who have reached the age of 40 are eligible to the office of president.

 

Functions of the president:

head of state

signs all federal laws in order to puts them into effect

proposes the Federal Chancellor for election

appoints and dismiss Federal Ministers, federal judges, federal civil servants as well as commissioned and non-commissioned officers

represents Germany (representational duties, delivering addresses and making speeches)

appoints German ambassadors (accreditation)

patron of organizations

The Chancellor of Germany has the highest political position in Germany. The chancellor is the head of government and the commander in chief of the German Armed Forces during wartime. The name goes back to the Holy Roman Empire where an archchancellor (chief chancellor) was the highest dignitary. The Chancellor cannot be removed from office during a four-year term unless there is a constructive vote of no confidence.

 

THE GOVERNMENT:

made up of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers

elected for four years

The Bundestag is located in the Reichstag building in Berlin and the only federal representative body that is elected by the German people. It can be compared to the United States House of Representatives and is elected every four years by German citizens who are at least 18-years-old. Every eligible voter has two ballots to cast. The first one is for a specific candidate (Erststimme) and the other one for a "party list" (Zweitstimme).  Therefore, there are two ways for a party to gain a seat in the Bundestag. A party must win either five percent of the national vote (five percent hurdle) or win at least three directly elected seats.

 

Functions of the Bundestag:

Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany

elected by the German people

members of the Bundestag elect the German Federal Chancellor

forum where different opinions are formulated and discussed

involved in law-making

members decide on the federal budget and deployments of the Bundeswehr

PHOTO: PATRICK JAYNE AND THOMAS
PHOTO: PATRICK JAYNE AND THOMAS

The Bundesrat represents the 16 German states (or Länder). They participate through the Bundesrat in legislation and administration. The Bundesrat is located at the former Prussian House of Lords in Berlin. The Bundesrat has 69 members who are not elected. The institution was designed to provide a check on executive powers. Laws that affect state powers need the consent of both, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat.

PHOTO: STEFFEN PRÖßDORF
PHOTO: STEFFEN PRÖßDORF

The Federal Constitutional Court is the highest court in Germany similar to the Supreme Court in the United States.

The Basic Law (Grundgesetz in German) serves as Germany's constitution. It was approved on May 8, 1949 and came into effect with the signature of the Allies on May 12. Today, the Basic Law is the foundation of Germany's political system, providing the framework of rules. The authors of the Basic Law were highly inspired by the Weimar Republic's  constitution. However,  the authors of the Basic Law sought to make sure that a potential dictator would never again be able to raise in the country, creating a stable political system. It was termed Basic Law to indicate that it was a provisional document of legislation, expecting that an eventual reunited nation would adopt a new constitution. The first article is a protection of the human dignity and human rights in general. Other core values that are protected by the Basic Law are the principles of democracy, social responsibility and the rule of law. Those core values are written in the so-called "Eternity clause."