The federal structure
in German politics today (third edition)
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The name of the German state, the Federal Republic of Germany, indicates and emphasises one of its fundamental characteristics: its federal structure. This chapter describes the principal reasons for the development of the federal system in Germany. It discusses various Articles of the Basic Law that makes reference to the federal organisation of the political system. The most distinctive feature of the structure of German federalism, though, is the functional division which exists between the federal government and the Länder. To allow the political system to operate effectively in a federal state such as that of Germany, a network of institutions which foster co-ordination and co-operation is necessary. The chapter describes the functions of the most obvious institution of co-ordination, the Bundesrat, which participates influentially in the legislative process at the federal level. The reunification of Germany in 1990 offered a new opportunity to rationalise the federal structure.

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