The creation of Land legislatures was of great relevance for the design of
parliamentary structures for the new Federal Republic in 1949. This chapter
describes the structures of the two chambers of the legislature of the
Federal Republic: the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. The Bundestag, the lower
chamber of the legislature of the Federal Republic of Germany, operates
under relevant provisions of the Basic Law and under legislation such as the
Electoral Law and the Party Law. The Bundesrat (Federal Council) is the most
powerful second chamber in western Europe. It imports the
'federal' element to the legislative process, alongside
the Bundestag's representation of the national
'popular' element. The chapter analyses the ways in which
the functions of the legislature are carried out and examines the social
composition of the Bundestag in relation to its representative function.
The European Union (EU) and its predecessor institutions have often been
shaped and influenced by the political initiatives of the Federal Republic
of Germany, one of the largest and most prosperous of the member states.
This chapter focuses on the EU and its predecessor organisations. While NATO
has been essential to Germany's external security, the EU has
contributed greatly to Germany's economic prosperity and has helped
to ensure the political acceptance of the Federal Republic in international
affairs. The chapter discusses many aspects of the political system of the
Federal Republic that reflect Germany's relationship with
institutions of European integration. The Basic Law itself acknowledges the
relationship between the Federal Republic and European integration. The
relationship between the Federal Republic and Europe can be summarised in
four short assertions: Germany needs Europe; Europe needs Germany; Germany
has influenced Europe; and Europe has influenced Germany.
Politics in the Federal Republic of Germany is influenced by, and in some
ways is dependent upon, the activities of interest groups. The political
system that developed after the Second World War placed emphasis on
pluralism as a desirable characteristic, as one which belonged to democratic
politics. This chapter reviews the range of interest groups that participate
in the political process in Germany. It identifies the more significant
interest groups, in relation to the policy sectors in which they are mainly
involved, and refers to examples of groups which are less significant, but
which illustrate the range and variety of such groups. Six
'arenas' for interest group activity can be identified:
public opinion, the electoral process, the parties, the legislature, the
executive, and the courts. These arenas can be relevant at local and Land
levels of government, as well as at the federal government level.
This chapter discusses German politics, determining that the best way to start analysing German politics is to study the electoral system. It then studies the concept of ‘electoral politics’ and takes a look at the political parties and the party system, also considering the relevance of electoral politics in the political system of Germany and the dynamic aspects of German electoral politics.
This chapter re-examines the development of the current electoral system. It takes note of some of the serious attempts that have been made to alter the basic features of the system, as well as the importance of electoral systems. From there, the discussion studies the three main features and two complicating factors of the German electoral system, as well as the importance of formerly neglected details in recent Bundestag elections, such as excess seats. Finally, the chapter discusses features of the electoral system that were reviewed by the Constitutional Court in 1997.
This chapter takes a look at three aspects of party participation in electoral politics, the first of which is the legislative and constitutional context where the parties exist, shape their organisation and conduct their activities. The second aspect is the candidate selection for both Land party lists and single-member constituencies, while the third is campaign organisation and planning. The chapter concludes with a detailed discussion of the various facets of campaign strategy that a political party must consider.
This chapter discusses the role of the public in German electoral politics, starting with a section on the levels of non-participation and participation in electoral politics, which involves the public in many ways. It then presents an analysis of voting behaviour, such as choosing certain candidates or parties. The chapter then introduces the concepts of extremist voting, which is voting support for the extreme right, and split-voting, which is a special feature of German electoral behaviour. It concludes by determining the problems associated with the analysis of voting behaviour.
This chapter explores each Bundestag election campaign since 1949, looking at interesting and relevant features of the campaign, the operation of the electoral system and the result of the election. It analyses the election campaign in relation to the context in which it occurs, such as the state of the economy and the outcome of Land elections since the previous Bundestag election.
This chapter analyses the ‘second-order’ elections – which include the elections to local councils, to the European Parliament and to Land legislatures – and defines ‘second-order’ elections as elections that do not directly affect the passing of national legislation or the organisation of the national government. The discussion focuses on the inter-relationships between these ‘second-order’ elections and Bundestag elections, which emphasise the relevant differences in the various electoral systems that are used, and also takes a look at the effects such elections can have on national politics.
This chapter addresses the question of whether electoral politics matter or not. It studies the effectiveness of the German mixed-member electoral system and the relevance of an electoral politics system where governments rarely change as an immediate result of the Bundestag elections. The chapter identifies some of the controversial aspects of the ‘permanent election campaign’ in Germany and the neglected function of elections, as well as studying the support levels for the German political system.