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Political System and Federalism

Germany is a value-based, democratic, economically successful, and cosmopolitan country.

Bundestag
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Insights

Active Politics

The Federal government’s agenda includes topics such as managing migration, climate protection, cooperation in Europe, and championing peace and security world-wide.

Reichstagskuppel
Joint Tasks

The Federal Republic of Germany is a value-based, vibrant democracy with a diverse political landscape.

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UN-Einsatz
Commitment to peace and security

Germany participates widely in multilateral cooperation and promotes democracy, and human rights all over the world.

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Weltkugel in Händen
A Pioneer in Climate Policy

Internationally, Germany leads the way in climate protection and is a pioneer in the development of renewable energies.

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Federal Chancellors

Angela Merkel
© Bundesregierung/Steffen Kugler
2005 ...

Angela Merkel (CDU)

Gerhard Schröder
© dpa
1998–2005

Gerhard Schröder (SPD)

Helmut Kohl
© dpa
1982–1998

Helmut Kohl (CDU)

Helmut Schmidt
© dpa
1974–1982

Helmut Schmidt (SPD)

Willy Brandt
© dpa
1969–1974

Willy Brandt (SPD)

Kurt Georg Kiesinger
© dpa
1966–1969

Kurt Georg Kiesinger (CDU)

Ludwig Erhard
© dpa
1963–1966

Ludwig Erhard (CDU)

Konrad Adenauer
© dpa
1949–1963

Konrad Adenauer (CDU)

The Federal Chancellor heads the Federal government. Together with the federal ministers he or she forms the Federal government, the cabinet.

The Fundamentals

Living Democracy

Germany is a parliamentary and federal democracy. The citizens elect the parliament – the Bundestag – every four years.

Reichstagskuppel
Federal State

Germany is a parliamentary democracy. Its ederal character can be seen from the great independence enjoyed by the 16 federal states.

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Bundestag
Parliament & Parties

The German Bundestag is elected every four years by free, secret, and direct ballot by citizens aged 18 and over who are eligible to vote.

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Angela Merkel, Heiko Maas
Federal Government

The Federal Chancellor and the federal ministers form the Federal Government, the cabinet.

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Bürgerentscheid
Broad Participation

Political party work is the classic way to become involved, but lots of young people exploit opportunities to participate in local citizens’ groups.

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Federal Presidents

Frank-Walter Steinmeier
© Bundesregierung/Steffen Kugler
2017 ...

Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD)

Joachim Gauck
dpa
2012–2017

Joachim Gauck (no party)

Christian Wulff
dpa
2010–2012

Christian Wulff (CDU)

Horst Köhler
dpa
2004–2010

Horst Köhler (CDU)

Johannes Rau
dpa
1999–2004

Johannes Rau (SPD)

Roman Herzog
dpa
1994–1999

Roman Herzog (CDU)

Richard von Weizsäcker
dpa
1984–1994

Richard von Weizsäcker (CDU)

Karl Carstens
dpa
1979–1984

Karl Carstens (CDU)

Walter Scheel
dpa
1974–1979

Walter Scheel (FDP)

Gustav Heinemann
dpa
1969–1974

Gustav Heinemann (SPD)

Heinrich Lübke
dpa
1959–1969

Heinrich Lübke (CDU)

Theodor Heuss
dpa
1949–1959

Theodor Heuss (FDP)

The Federal President is the most senior political person in the country. In terms of protocol the Federal President holds the highest office. S/he is elected not by the people, but by a Federal Assembly convened specially for the purpose.

Timeline

Politics

Grundgesetz Urkunde
© dpa

On 23 May the Parliamentary Council, which is made up of representatives of the states in the Western Occupation Zones, rresolves the Basic Law in Bonn. The first Bundestag is elected on 14 August.

DDR-Aufstand
© dpa

On 17 June 1953 around one million people take to the streets in East Berlin and East Germany in protest at the political and economic conditions. The uprising is quashed by a massive military operation.

Berliner Mauer
© dpa

In Berlin, the East German leadership seals off the crossings from east to west: with a wall and barbed wire. Anyone henceforth seen trying to escape is shot. The unity of Germany as a state seems unattainable for the foreseeable future.

Willy Brandt
© dpa

Willy Brandt is the first Chancellor not to be a member of the CDU party. The Ostpolitik of the coalition government made up of the SPD and FDP creates a framework for the reconciliation of Germany with its eastern neighbours.

1989/90 Open item
Mauerfall
© dpa

In East Germany, peaceful protests lead to the regime being toppled. On 9 November the border with the West is opened. After the first free elections on 18 March, East Germany accedes to the Federal Republic on 3 October 1990.

Umzug Bonn Berlin
© dpa

The Bundestag and the Federal Government are relocated to Berlin. The parliamentary buildings stand on both sides of the former course taken by the Wall. Bonn remains the seat of some ministries and federal authorities.

Politics

Political system, Parliament & Parties

Germany is a federation. The federation and the 16 Länder (states) each have areas of responsibility of their own.

Bundesrat
Federal Republic

 Germany is defined by federalism. Through the Bundesrat, the upper House, the Länder (states) participate in the legislative process.

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Bundestag
Parliament & Parties

The German Bundestag is elected every four years by free, secret, and direct ballot by citizens aged 18 and over who are eligible to vote.

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Politisches System
Political system

The Federal Republic of Germany is structured as a federal state and parliamentary democracy.

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Angela Merkel, Heiko Maas
Federal Government

The Federal Chancellor and the federal ministers form the Federal Government, the cabinet.

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Parliament & Parties

Bundestag
CDU
SPD
AfD
FDP
Linke
Die Grünen
CSU

Seven parties with 709 members of parliament are represented in the 19th Bundestag: CDU, CSU, SPD, AfD, FDP, The Left party, and Alliance 90/The Greens. The current Federal Government is made up of a coalition of CDU/CSU and SPD, with Dr. Angela Merkel (CDU) as the Federal Chancellor, Olaf Scholz (SPD) as Deputy Chancellor and Heiko Maas (SPD) as Federal Foreign Minister. AfD, FDP, The Left party and the Greens form the parliamentary opposition.