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At a glance

Political system

The Federal Republic of Germany is structured as a federal state and parliamentary democracy.
Politisches System
© dpa

The Federal Republic of Germany is structured as a federal state and parliamentary democracy. The Basic Law The Basic Law The Basic Law determines that Germany is a constitutional state: All state authorities are subject to judicial control. Section 1 of the Basic Law is of particular relevance. It stipulates that respect for human dignity is the most important aspect of the constitution: “Human dignity shall be… Read more › stipulates that all government powers emanate from the people. The people assigns these powers to the parliaments (Bundestag and State parliaments) for the duration of a legislative period.

The authority of state is subdivided into legislative powers (the legislative), executive powers (the executive) and the powers responsible for the administration of justice (the judiciary).

In terms of protocol, the Federal President Federal President The Federal President is the head of state of the Federal Republic of Germany. He represents the country in its dealings with other countries and appoints government members, judges and high-ranking civil servants. With his signature, acts become legally binding. He can dismiss the government and,… Read more › is Germany’s most senior representative. The President of the Bundestag The Bundestag The Bundestag is the elected representation of the German people. Technically speaking half the 598 seats in the Bundestag are allocated by means of the parties’ state lists (the second vote) and the other half by the direct election of candidates in the 299 constituencies (the first vote). This… Read more › is, in terms of protocol, the second most senior. The proxy for the Federal President is the President of the Bundesrat The Bundesrat The Bundesrat represents the federal states and alongside the Bundestag is a form of Second Chamber. It is obliged to deliberate on each federal law. As the chamber of the federal states, the Bundesrat has the same function as those Second Chambers in other federal states that are mostly referred… Read more › – an office held on an annual basis by the premier of the one of the federal states Federal states Germany is a federal state. Both the central federal government and the 16 federal states have independent areas of jurisdiction. The government in Berlin is responsible for foreign policy, European policy, defense, justice, employment, social affairs, tax and health. The federal states are… Read more › . The office with the greatest political power is that of the Federal Chancellor Federal chancellor The Federal Chancellor is the only member of the Federal Government to be elected. The constitution empowers him to personally choose his ministers, who head the most important political authorities. Moreover it is the Chancellor who determines the number of ministries and their responsibilities… Read more › . The President of the Federal Constitutional Court The Federal Constitutional Court The Federal Constitutional Court is a characteristic institution of post-war German democracy. The Basic Law accorded it the right to repeal legislation passed as part of the legitimate democratic process should it come to the conclusion that such legislation contravenes the Basic Law. The… Read more › is likewise one of the country’s high representatives.

At a glance

Angela Merkel
© Bundesregierung/Steffen Kugler
Dr. Angela Merkel

CDU, Federal Chancellor since November 2005

Wolfgang Schäuble
© Bundestag
Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble

CDU, President of the Bundestag since 2017

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

SPD, Federal President since March 2017

Stephan Harbarth
© dpa
Prof. Dr. Stephan Harbarth

President of the Federal Constitutional Court

Deutsches polititsches System