Know More About Politics of Germany

The political system of the Federal Republic of Germany represents the second democratic system in German history. At the Parliamentary Council when designing the new constitution, the Basic Law, the founders of the Federal Republic took into account the lessons that had been learned from the failure of the first democracy, namely the Weimar Republic, and the Nazi dictatorship. The Federal Republic of Germany was born from the ashes of World War II. And in 1949 democracy was initially established only in the Western section of a Germany that had been divided into two states. Yet the Basic Law, although originally intended as a temporary solution, stated that its goal was reunification “in free self-determination”.

The political parties: According to the Basic Law it is the task of the political parties to participate in political will form by the people. Parties whose commitment to democracy is in doubt can, at the request of the Federal Government, be banned from participation in the country’s political life. However, such a ban is not automatically forthcoming in any sense. Should the Federal Government consider a ban to be appropriate because such parties pose a threat to the democratic system, it can only petition for such a ban. The idea is to prevent the ruling parties simply banning those parties who might prove awkward in the fight for votes.

The electoral system: The German Electoral system makes it very difficult for any one party to form a government on its own. This has only happened once in 56 years. An alliance of parties is the general rule. So that voters know which partner the party they voted for is considering governing with, the parties issue coalition statements before embarking on the election campaign. By voting for a particular party citizens thus express on the one hand a preference for a specific party alliance, and on the other determine the balance of power between the desired future partners in government.

The Federal President: The Federal President is the head of state of the Federal Republic of Germany. He represents the country in its dealings with other countries and appoints government members, judges and high-ranking civil servants. With his signature, acts become legally binding. He can dismiss the government and, in exceptional cases, dissolve parliament before its term of office is completed. The Federal President remains in office for a period of five years; he can be re-elected only once. He is elected by the Federal Convention, which is made up of members of the Bundestag.

The federal structure: The German federal state is a complex entity. It consists of a central Federal Government and 16 federal states. The Basic Law lays out in great details which issues fall within the ambit of the Federal Government and which devolve to the federal states. Public life in Germany is predominantly based on central laws. In accordance with the principle of subsidiary citizens, on the other hand, deal almost exclusively with state and local authorities acting on behalf of the federal states. The reason for this is the aim of the Basic Law to combine the advantages of a unified state with those of a federal state.

The Federal Constitutional Court: The Federal Constitutional Court is a characteristic institution of post-war German democracy. The Basic Law accorded it the right to repeal legislation passed as part of the legitimate democratic process should it come to the conclusion that such legislation contravenes the Basic Law. The Constitutional Court only acts in response to petitions. Ultimately every German court is obliged to submit a petition for actual assessment of the normative basis to the Constitutional Court should it consider a law to be un-constitutional. The Federal Constitutional Court holds a monopoly on interpretation of the constitution with regard to all jurisdictions.

Germany and Europe: Given the high standards with regard to the constitutional state and democracy as a result of the Basic Law, the Federal Constitutional Court is also a player in the European political arena. The court has illustrated on several occasions that European law must satisfy the criteria of the Basic Law if Germany politics is to relinquish to the EU the rights to draw up its own laws. In this respect to a certain extent the “eternal guarantee” of applicable principles with regard to the Basic Law vies with the Basic Law’s commitment to European integration.

If you want to know more about Germany politics please contact us at German Information Centre to get the latest information.

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