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Series: Politics Today

This book offers an overview of the principal features of the German political system. It emphasises four important characteristics of the system: the way in which twentieth-century history shaped the post-Second World War political system; the stability and adaptability of that system; the unusual importance within the political system of legal rules; and the significance of Germany's association with European integration. The book surveys the Basic Law, designed in 1948-1949 as a direct response to the failure of Germany's first experiment with democracy: the regime of the Weimar Republic. The book describes the events of the fateful years 1989 and 1990, which led to reunification, in three phases: the downfall of the old regime in the German Democratic Republic; the period of adjustment and transition to a democratic regime in Germany; and the process and consequences of reunification itself. The book also examines the principal influences which have shaped the present-day political system, the electoral system and electoral behaviour of the Federal Republic, and the features of the 'party state'. It reviews the structure, operation and political effects of Germany's particular version of federalism and analyses the core institutions of government. The structure and powers of the legislative chambers, the legislative process, and the role of the elected representative are also discussed. Finally, the book charts the path taken by West Germany to develop links to 'Europe', and explores the ways in which membership of what has become the European Union impinges upon the domestic politics of the Federal Republic.

German Responses to the June 2019 Mission of the Sea-Watch 3
Klaus Neumann

same rights as German citizens has slowly taken hold; to use the words of Angela Merkel, who ought to be credited with insisting on this idea even when it was unfashionable, ‘The values and rights of our Basic Law are valid for everyone in this country’ ( Merkel, 2019 ). Once it is accepted that the first line of the German constitution’s Article 1, ‘ Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar ’ (‘Human dignity is inviolable’), applies to everyone in Germany, then it makes little sense to deny this right to those outside its borders. An increasing number of Germans

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Geoffrey K. Roberts

Of course, many factors, both internal to Germany and external (see Chapters 10 , 11 ) have influenced the development of the political system of the Federal Republic. Together with the prior-history and history of the Federal Republic ( Chapter 1 ), and the process of reunification ( Chapter 2 ), the most important have been the Basic Law itself, providing a constitutional basis for the political system, and the Federal Constitutional Court, charged with the task of interpreting that Basic Law. The economy, the division of Germany and the ‘cold war’ and the

in German politics today (third edition)
Arthur B. Gunlicks

chap 5 27/5/03 11:55 am Page 163 5 Financing the federal system Introduction According to the official English translation of Article 20, para. 1, of the Basic Law, the Federal Republic of Germany is a “democratic and social federal state.” A better translation might be “a democratic and federal social welfare state.” “Social” in German usually means socially fair, or just, and generally equal. Therefore, this concept provides a constitutional basis for the German welfare state. A European-type welfare state is under strong unitary pressures, because

in The Länder and German federalism
Geoffrey K. Roberts

The development of the federal system The name of the German state – the Federal Republic of Germany – indicates and emphasises one of its fundamental characteristics: its federal structure. This means that sovereign authority is shared between the federation itself and the component Länder, as described in the Basic Law. Unlike the United States, Canada, Australia, India or Brazil, all federal states which cover very extensive territory, the Federal Republic is not particularly large in area – smaller than France or Spain, and not much larger than Italy – so

in German politics today (third edition)
Arthur B. Gunlicks

, or Basic Law, was then approved by the parliaments of the Länder (except Bavaria) rather than by popular referendum. This does not make the Federal Republic the creature of the German Länder, however; the Preamble states specifically that the Basic Law is the result of an act by the German people. In accordance with the tradition of civil law countries on the European continent, the Basic Law is long and detailed in comparison to the very brief US Constitution.2 The Basic Law has 146 articles, in comparison to seven original articles and twenty-seven amendments in

in The Länder and German federalism
Open Access (free)
Arthur B. Gunlicks

, the collapse of the Wall, the re-emergence of five Länder which had ceased to exist in 1952, and the unification of Germany in October 1990. The result was a third generation of Land constitutions following the first generation before the Basic Law went into effect in 1949 and the second generation which followed that event during the 1950s. The Schleswig-Holstein Constitution of 1990 became an inspiration for the five new Länder in the East, and their constitutions, in turn, encouraged several of the old Länder in the West to revise their constitutions. In addition

in The Länder and German federalism
Geoffrey K. Roberts

systems, though mooted by Chancellor Kohl in his ten-point-plan on 28 November 1989, soon was perceived as unrealistic and unsatisfactory. The Basic Law contained as its final provision Article 146, which would have involved the termination of both German states (and of the Basic Law itself) when a reunified Germany was created, under some new constitution. There were two important drawbacks to using this scheme. It would involve the creation of a constitutional assembly of some kind, and lengthy deliberation by that assembly to draft a new constitution. This would

in German politics today (third edition)
Geoffrey K. Roberts

The political system of the Federal Republic is sometimes described as ‘chancellor democracy’, because of the dominant role occupied by the chancellor in that political system. 1 This chapter surveys the way in which the Basic Law provides the political instruments that permit the chancellor to play such a dominant role. It is important, though, to concede that the chancellor’s powers in actuality will also depend on the political circumstances of the time, the personality of the chancellor and the party system. The constraints on the chancellor’s political

in German politics today (third edition)
Abstract only
Geoffrey K. Roberts

unsatisfactory International Ruhr Authority, which at the end of the war had been created to ensure that West Germany’s vast coal and steel resources in the Ruhr could no longer be utilised for military purposes. It also provided at least a temporary resolution of the problem of what to do with the Saar territory (another vital area of coal reserves and steel production), placed under French control at the end of the war. The ECSC was the first of the European post-war institutions that possessed supranational sovereignty, and the Basic Law of the Federal Republic (Article 24

in German politics today (third edition)