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German Political System
- Chandra Chapagai
Political system is basically a structure to decide, govern, implement, and authorize policies and procedures to the citizens of a country. Each country has their own political system developed or designed under which policies, procedures, and legislations to run the country and the citizens. Each nation has some sort of uniqueness in formation of the political system and how to form policies, procedures, and govern the nation. Unlike US, Germany has its own political system to run the country. Germany is a federal parliamentary system country. It has different components of political system and they are constitution, the executive, legislature, judiciary, different states, composed of different political parties. Like all other political system, parliamentary system also has its own strengths and weaknesses.
The basic law of the land in Germany is the constitution. The constitution of Federal Republic of Germany was passed after World War II in 1949. Germany is a social Democratic country. In the constitution, the basic rights of German citizens are guaranteed. All federal and state authorities are bound by the constitution. They cannot do anything that is against what is written in the constitution. It was the constitution that has established democratic parliamentary system in Germany. After the constitution was written it helped to separate powers of German into executive, legislative, and judiciary branches. This constitution helps all these branches to maintain checks and balances to run the country.
The executive branch basically consists of the head of the state, and head of the government. The head of the state is the president and this president is mostly ceremonial but the ceremonial president is also responsible in representing the state, states’ existence, and their legitimate causes, and overall unity of the states in the country. The president also has the power to practice politics and implement laws and order in the country when there are crisis in the parliament and their cabinet members, and is also responsible to handle international issues, sign treaties in the situation when the parliamentary system is in unstable state, and these are all written in the constitution. The president is elected by the legislative team members. The president is elected for two five year terms for maximum time frame. The head of the government is the federal chancellor. In Germany, the federal chancellor is responsible person to run the government and the overall country polices and politics. The chancellor of the federal republic of Germany is responsible for the parliament of the country. It is the responsibility of the chancellor to select the members of the cabinet for the government.
Legislature is another branch of the federal parliamentarian government of Germany. Legislature assembly is divided into two champers and they are Bundestag, and Bundesrat and its bicameral system. The Bundestag and Bundesrat are lower house and upper house of German political system. The Bundestag members are elected for four year terms in the government. Bundestag will have more than 598 members of representations. Current lower house of chamber has 622 members. It is required by the party to have at least five percent of the national vote in the Bundestag to have the seats.
Upper house of the German parliament is called Bundesrat. Bundesrat is a representation from all other states in the country. They are appointed by the state cabinets and can remove them any time if they want to. States selects the representatives to serve in the Bundesrat. The number of house members in Bundesrat is smaller than Bundestag. The lower house of the parliament has the power and authority to veto state level legislation and that will ultimately affect the governing power on the state level.
The judiciary system of federal republic of Germany is responsible to interpret, explain, and apply the law to the country and other states. German judiciary system practices civil law. The judiciary system of German has three court system and they are ordinary courts, specialized courts, and federal constitutional courts. Ordinary courts basically are responsible to dealing with criminal and civil cases. The federal court of justice of Germany is the highest ordinary court in the country. It is also the highest court of appeals that most of the cases go there for the highest appeals to be heard by the federal judges. Specialized court systems in Germany deals with issues that are related to administration, labor laws, social laws, budget and financial laws, and the patent laws. Any cases related to these issues are directed to the specialized courts in Germany. The highest federal Germany court is called as the constitutional courts and this court focuses on judiciary system and any constitutional issues. If there are any issues related to the constitution of the federal government, the Federal Constitutional court will be involved.
Germany is divided into sixteen states. It is also called Landers. The government of Germany has federal constitution, all the sovereignty are given to the state and they manage and govern the state level affairs abide by the federal constitution. Since the population on these states are not same and can vary therefore, the size and territory of these states also vary. Each state has its own capital and has their own local and regional government to govern the people of the state.
In democratic countries there will be political parties to run for the government. In the federal parliament government of Germany there are two major political parties and they are Center-Right and Center-Left. The Center-Right has two other parties and they are Christian Democratic Union, and Christian Social Union. These two parties operate differently and they operate thought the country. The Centre-Left Party is the Social Democratic Party. There are other parties as well and they are named as The Left Party, and the German Green Party. The current political party in the government now is Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Angela Merkel is the present head of the government of Federal Republic of Germany. Currently Joachim Gauck is serving as the head of the states in Germany.
Strengths and Weakness of Parliament System
Any political system has strengths and weaknesses. Political system in federal parliamentary system also has strengths and weakness. One advantage of parliamentary political system is that the executive branch is dependent on Bundestag and Bundesrat and its easy and fast to pass the legislation that was proposed. Strength is that the executive power is divided into states and is not fully concentrated to the head of the federal government. The most significant strength I like is based on the series of debates, it can change the power without election and then allow election to be held at any time, so there is flexibility if need be.
One weakness of the parliamentary system is that the head of the government, the chancellor is not directly elected. Also, there is no any group or body that they oppose the legislation that is passed by the parliament. Executive branch and legislative branches are closely connected and the checks and balances between them are poor. There are possibilities of having informal constitutions Sometimes reserve powers are used which are not democratic and can cause crisis in the constitution. It is also possible that the parliamentary system can develop political authority from the executive branch.
The political system of Republic of Germany is very interesting. The political system of Germany is fairly decentralized system in which the system is categorized into executive, legislative, judiciary, and cabinets. In this system, the people will elect legislation, the legislation body elect executive, and the executive body produces public policy. There are both good side and bad side of parliamentary political system. The judiciary system of German is called the basic law of the land. There are different political parties in the Republic of Germany and all can participate in the political process and involve in the election processes. In Germany, chancellor is the head of the government, and the president is the head of the sixteen states.
Caramani, D. (2011). Comparative politics (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
German political system. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2015, from http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/Germanpoliticalsystem.html
Neil, P. (2007). States. In Essentials of comparative politics (2nd ed.). New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton &.
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