Germany Political System

Political system

The West German Constitution came into force on May 23, 1949. On October 3, 1990, East Germany (GDR) acceded to this constitution. Short for GM, Germany thereby again became a state. In 2006, significant changes were made to the constitution to change the distribution of power between the federal level and the states (die Länder).

The German head of state is the president of the federation, who is elected for five years by the federal assembly, that is, the members of Germany’s federation day (see below) and the same number of members appointed by the state’s national representations. The president, who can be re-elected, has essentially representative duties.

The Federal German Parliament consists of two chambers: the Bundestag and the Bundestag. The members of the Bundestag are elected every four years in direct elections through a combination of majority elections of individual candidates and proportional elections between the parties. Each voter therefore has two votes. To enter the Bundestag, a party must get over five percent of all votes or win at least three so-called direct seats in the majority elections. The system means that it varies how many members of the Bundestag have; after the 2013 election, the number was 631. According to the Constitution, it is difficult to dissolve the federation day prematurely and this has only happened twice, most recently in 2005. The voting age is 18 years.

The head of government, the Chancellor, is elected by the Bundestag and is responsible for this. She / she then appoints the members of her government. The Bundestag can set aside the chancellor through a “constructive distrust”, which means there must be a majority for a new Chancellor.

The Federal Council is to safeguard the interests of the Länder towards the central government and it has the right to co-determine the federal legislative work. The council consists of 69 representatives from all the state governments, which sends between three and six members, depending on the number of residents. The members are bound by the positions of their governments, and their terms of office are related to the state elections, which are held every four or five years depending on the state. A change of power in a state means that the composition of the Federal Council changes. This may mean that the Federal Council periodically has a different political majority than the Bundestag, which has sometimes hampered the government’s work. In 2006, more than 20 amendments were made to the Constitution, which meant that the number of legislative proposals requiring the Council’s approval decreased significantly; however, the Council still takes a position on about half of all legislative proposals. In exchange, the states gained greater autonomy, among other things in school policy and environmental protection and in the matter of the stores’ opening hours.

German federalism is based on a long tradition. The 16 states, of which Bremen, Berlin and Hamburg are city states, have a high degree of internal self-government. They have their own constitutions, parliaments and governments. The states themselves regulate cultural policy, education, police services, media policy and social assistance. The larger states are divided into districts, counties (Landkreise) and municipalities (Gemeinden).

Through the single treaty that regulated the German reunification, Berlin became the new capital of Germany. In the summer of 1999, parliament and government moved from Bonn to Berlin. However, some federal ministries and departments within those relocating remained in Bonn.


A federal constitutional court in Karlsruhe oversees the legislation. It is the ultimate body in conflicts between different constitutional bodies or between the central government and the states, and it can test whether laws that are enacted violate the Constitution. It also acts as a court of appeal for those who believe that public power has violated constitutional rights. The Constitutional Court has in many cases been withdrawn from the political decision-making process by considering whether controversial decisions are constitutional. There are also constitutional courts in each state.

The highest general court is the Federal Bundesgerichtshof, and under it are appellate courts. The lower courts are state-level courts. Germany also has several special courts.

Political parties

Since the reunification, the government has switched between the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, but at times they have also co-ruled. When the Greens and the Left in the 2000s took place in the Bundestag and the state parliament, support for the larger parties decreased.

The Christian Democrats actually consist of two parties, the Christian Democratic Union (Christlich-Demokratet Union, CDU) and the Christian Social Union (Christlich-Soziale Union, CSU). CSU is only available in Bavaria, CDU in other states. They form a common faction in the Bundestag. In the parties, value-conservative views are combined with the idea of ​​a “social market economy”: a free market in combination with a state welfare policy. CSU is more conservative and skeptical about the EU than CDU. Angela Merkel was party leader for CDU for 18 years, but after failing in important state elections in the fall of 2018, she decided not to run for re-election at the party congress in December. Instead, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was appointed new CDU leader. Horst Seehofer has been President of CSU since 2008.

The newly formed Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD), after the Second World War, abandoned its commitment to Marxism in 1959 and for the first time joined a government in 1966. The party began to move towards the political center in the late 1990s and after a few years the lot was abandoned by parts of the strong left flank. However, many who wish to revert to traditional leftist politics remain. The party’s chairman, 1964-1987, Willy Brandt, as Chancellor of the United States, began the efforts to create better relations with the countries of the Communist bloc in Eastern Europe. Since 2009, the party is led by Sigmar Gabriel.

The Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats formed a joint government after the 2013 federal election, a “big coalition”, which has been tried at federal level twice before: 1966-1969 and 2005-2009.

Members of the SPD’s radical left flank and union leaders who were excluded from the party formed in early 2005 the Labor and Social Justice Election Alternative (Wasg). The successor to the East German Communist Party was until July 2005 the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). Ahead of the Bundestag election in the fall of that year, the party had changed its name to the Left Party / PDS and an election alliance was formed with Wasg. The two parties merged in June 2007 under the name Vänstern (Die Linke).

The Free Democratic Party (Freie Demokratische Party, FDP) is a liberal, corporate-friendly party of traditional type. It has often been in office in coalition with either CDU / CSU or SPD. The party weakened in the years following the German reunification but made a record choice in 2009. The party resigned from the Bundestag in the 2013 election, but returned again after the 2017 election.

Confederation 90 / The Greens (Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen) was formed in 1993 through a merger of the Greens in the West and Confederation 90. The Greens emerged as a pacifist environmental party in 1980 while Confederation 90 had been founded in 1990 by several opposition groups in the East that led the peaceful revolution. in East Germany. In 1998, the party was included in Schröder’s red-green government coalition. During the 2010s, it was part of state governments mainly with the Social Democrats but also with Christian Democrats and others.

In the mid-2010s, a newly formed dissatisfaction party sailed up as a serious threat to the established large parties. Alternatives for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, AFD) had been formed in 2013 in protest against the euro co-operation and the financial rescue operations against Greece. The party gained a strong boost when, in conjunction with the large influx of refugees to Germany, it began to profile itself as an immigration and Islam-hostile party. In the fall of 2016, it was represented in over half of the states’ parliaments and in the election for Bundestag 2017, the party became the third largest.

The anti-immigrant, right-wing parties Republicans (Die Republicans), German People’s Union (Deutsche Volksunion, DVU) and National Democratic Party(Nationale Partei Deutschland, NPD) has lost significance in recent years. After the German unification, NPD was mainly active in eastern Germany and was elected to the state parliament as a result of election cooperation with DVU. NPD has been described by the German security police as racist and anti-Semitic. In 2003, a failed attempt was made in the Constitutional Court to ban the party. In 2011, it was revealed that a neo-Nazi group had carried out a dozen murders, bomb attacks and bank robberies for an extended period without being discovered. One of the members had previously been a member of NPD. In 2013, home ministers from all states submitted a new application to ban the NPD to the Constitutional Court, which in spring 2016 initiated a legal process.

The Pirate Party (Piratenpartei) was formed in 2006 inspired by the Swedish sister party with a focus on copyright issues and new media. The party has been represented in the state parliament but not elected on the Bundestag.

Germany Urban Population