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Summary

Germany is a federal republic with sixteen states and a parliamentary system.  The German Bundestag (Parliament), the main legislative organ, had its inaugural meeting in 1949.  The first all-German session of Parliament took place after German reunification in December 1990.  The German Bundesrat is the constitutional body through which the states participate in the legislative process.  Elections for the Bundestag take place every four years.  Seats are allocated according to a personalized proportional voting system that combines a personal vote for a particular candidate in a district (first vote) with a party vote (second vote).

I.  Background

A.  General History

After the total and unconditional surrender of Germany at the end of the Second World War, the Allied forces consisting of the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, the former Soviet Union (USSR), and the Provisional Government of the French Republic assumed “supreme authority with respect to Germany, including all the powers possessed by the German government, the High Command, and any state, municipal, or local government or authority.”[1]  The exercise of supreme authority was conferred upon the Allied Control Council.[2]  In the London Protocol of 1944, the governments of the US, UK, and USSR decided that Germany, within the borders as they existed on December 31, 1937, would be divided into three occupation zones, each of which was assigned to one of the three Allied forces.  Berlin received a special status under joint occupation of the three forces.[3]  On April 8, 1949, the western zones were merged.[4]

On July 25, 1948, the eleven prime ministers of the German states in the western zones of occupation created a “Council of Experts on Constitutional Matters.”  The Council met in Herrenchiemsee, Bavaria, from August 10 to August 23, 1948, and was charged by the Allied forces with drawing up a draft constitution for West Germany.  In September, the draft was forwarded to the newly convened Parliamentarian Council in Bonn for further consideration by the Council’s sixty-five representatives of the German states.  On May 8, 1949, the Parliamentarian Council adopted the Basic Law (Grundgesetz) by a vote of 53–12.[5]  The Basic Law, which entered into force on May 23, 1949,[6] was proclaimed for all of Germany, East and West, and article 23 of the Basic Law explicitly codified German reunification as a goal.[7]

The Basic Law lays down fundamental rights, establishes the structure and administration of the Federal Republic of Germany, and sets out the legal framework of the three branches of government.  The German Bundestag (Parliament) represents the main body of the legislative branch.[8]  Elections for the first Bundestag were held on August 14, 1949, and its inaugural meeting took place on September 7, 1949.[9]  Following the election of the German President on September 12, 1949, and the election of the German Chancellor on September 15, 1949, the Federal Ministers were appointed on September 20, 1949, thereby completing the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany.[10]

Even after the Basic Law entered into force, the Allied forces retained occupation powers, which were codified in the Occupation Statute of Germany.[11]  The Occupation Statute made every amendment of the Basic Law and adoption of new laws dependent on approval by the Occupation Forces.[12]  In an explanatory note accompanying the approval of the Basic Law, the Allied forces also pointed out that Berlin could not be accorded voting membership in the Bundestag or Bundesrat or be governed by the Federation of Germany.[13]  This situation remained in place until the repeal of the Occupation Statute in 1955.[14]

In 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) decided that the GDR would accede to the Federation and adopt the Basic Law according to the procedure set forth in former article 23 of the Basic Law.[15]  On August 29, 1990, the Bundestag adopted a law agreeing to the accession.[16]  Five weeks after the accession, the first all-German elections took place and the first all-German Bundestag had its inaugural meeting on December 20, 1990.[17]

B.  Physical Location of the Parliament

In most countries, the seat of the parliament and the government are located in the capital.  Historically, Berlin had been the capital and the seat of the Parliament and the government of the German Empire (1871–1918), of the Weimar Republic (1918–1933), and during National Socialism (1933–1945).  The Second World War ended this tradition.  Although the Allied Control Council was located in Berlin, it was not possible to locate the seat of the new Bundestag in Berlin owing to Berlin’s special legal status as discussed above.

The Parliamentarian Council therefore decided that the seat of the Parliament and the other constitutional organs would be temporarily located in Bonn.[18]  On November 3, 1949, the Bundestag approved the decision of the Parliamentarian Council.[19]  In the same session it was decided that “the constitutional organs will move their seat to the capital of Germany, Berlin, once general, free, equal, secret, and free elections were held in all of Berlin and in the Soviet occupied territory.”[20]  Over the years, the Bundestag reiterated several times its commitment to make Berlin the capital of the German state as a whole and move the seat of the Parliament and other official buildings to Berlin.[21]

In 1990, after German reunification, it was agreed to once again make Berlin the capital of a unified Germany.[22]  The designation of Berlin as the capital did not automatically entail a decision on the future location of the Parliament or the government.  The Unification Treaty only provided that a decision on the location would be made after unification had been achieved.[23]

After a controversial discussion of the pros and cons, it was agreed to move the seat of the Bundestag from Bonn to Berlin to further German reintegration,[24] and in April 1999 that decision was implemented.[25]  The status of Berlin as the capital of Germany was codified in article 22, paragraph 1 of the Basic Law as part of the amendment of the Basic Law in 2006.  Today, Berlin again serves as the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as the seat of the German Bundestag, the German Bundesrat, the Federal President, and the German Government.

C.  Reichstag Building

The German Bundestag is housed in the former Reichstag building, which was designed by Paul Wallot and inaugurated in 1894.[26]   The Reichstag building was utilized as the seat of the Parliament of the German Reich (German Empire) and of the Weimar Republic.

On February 27, 1933, the Reichstag building was set on fire in an arson attack.  Marinus van der Lubbe, a young Dutch council communist, was arrested and convicted for the crime, but responsibility for the crime has never been clearly established and remains an ongoing topic of debate.[27]  The Nazi party took advantage of the situation: Adolf Hitler convinced the German President Hindenburg to issue an emergency decree (Reichstag Fire Decree) and suspend civil liberties.[28]

During the time of the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945, the Reichstag building was not used as the seat of the Parliament. The plenary chamber had been severely damaged by the fire and was not restored.  The remaining rooms, which had been spared by the fire, were used for the administration of the Parliament and the library.  In 1940, air-raid shelters for women and children were installed in the basement of the Reichstag building.  It was also used by the Central Archives for Military Medicine, the General Building Inspector for the Capitol, the German Committee for Standardization, and the Berlin Charité hospital.[29]

When the Soviet Army entered Berlin, they focused their attacks on the Reichstag building and almost completely destroyed it.  The graffiti left on the walls by Soviet soldiers is still visible today, and was preserved as a remembrance of the horrors of the Second World War.[30]  On October 26, 1955, the Bundestag decided to restore the building because of its symbolic character for a unified Germany.[31]

After German reunification and the decision to move the seat of Parliament back to Berlin, the Reichstag building was chosen as the future seat of the Bundestag.  An architectural design competition was launched and Sir Norman Foster’s design was selected.[32]  He decided to install a publicly accessible glass dome that offers a view into the plenary chamber and of the skyline of Berlin, and represents openness and transparency.[33]

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II.  Constitutional Status and Role

Germany is a federal republic with sixteen states.[34]  It has a parliamentary system in which the main legislative role is assigned to the German Bundestag.[35]  The Bundestag is the only constitutional organ that is directly elected by the people.[36]

The German Basic Law does not contain a provision that enumerates the powers and tasks of the Bundestag similar to article I, section 8 of the US Constitution.  Individual provisions in the Basic Law also provide only a limited picture of the functions of the Bundestag.  The powers and tasks of the Bundestag therefore have to be inferred from the context and purpose of the Basic Law, and from constitutional practice.[37]

A.  Legislation

All laws must be adopted by the German Bundestag.[38]  It is therefore considered the main legislative body.  As Germany is a federation, its sixteen states (Länder) participate in the legislative process through another constitutional organ, the German Bundesrat(Federal Council).[39]  The Federal Government and the Federal President also participate in the legislative process.[40]  Legislative initiatives may start with the Federal Government, in the Bundestag, or in the Bundesrat, and are then debated in the Bundestag.[41]  The legislative process is described in greater detail below.

B.  Oversight

Besides engaging in the legislative process, the German Bundestag monitors and scrutinizes the government and its work.  In order to exercise its oversight function of the executive branch, the Bundestag must be informed about the work of the Federal Government and has several instruments and rights at its disposal to achieve that purpose.  The Bundestag can either gather the information itself by forming permanent and special committees,[42] or it can require the Federal Government to provide the necessary information.[43]

C.  Election of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal President

The German Bundestag elects the Federal Chancellor in a secret vote without any prior debate.[44]  The person who receives the majority of the votes becomes Federal Chancellor.[45]  The Federal Chancellor is the head of government,[46] a position that has been held by Angela Merkel since 2005.[47]  The Bundestag can also dismiss the Federal Chancellor by means of a vote of no confidence.  The members must elect an alternative candidate by majority vote and request the dismissal of the former Federal Chancellor from the Federal President.[48]

Unlike the US Senate, the Bundestag is not involved in the selection process for Federal Ministers.  They are appointed by the Federal President on a binding proposal by the Federal Chancellor.[49]

The Bundestag also participates in the election of the Federal President, who is the head of state and represents the Federal Republic of Germany at home and abroad.[50]  The position is currently held by Joachim Gauck.[51]  The Federal President is chosen by the Federal Convention by majority vote.  The Federal Convention is convened only to elect the Federal President and consists of the members of the Bundestag and an equal number of members elected by the governments of the German states.[52]

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III.  Structure and Composition

As mentioned in Part II, above, the main legislative organ is the German Bundestag.[53]  The Bundesrat is the constitutional body through which the representatives of the German state governments participate in the legislative process.[54]  The Basic Law does not use the terms “bicameral parliament” or “upper and lower house” with regard to the Bundestag and Bundesrat.  They are both described as “constitutional bodies,” as are the Federal President, the Federal Government, the Federal Convention, the Joint Committee,[55] and the Federal Constitutional Court.[56]  Furthermore, the Federal Constitutional Court does not consider the Bundesrat an upper house of Parliament because, according to the court, it “does not participate on an equal footing with the German Bundestag in the legislative process” and “does not adopt the laws.”[57]  For all practical purposes, though, the German system can be described as a bicameral system, in particular in all cases in which legislation requires the consent of the Bundesrat.[58]

A.  German Bundestag

1.  Members

The German Bundestag has at least 598 members.[59]  The number of members fluctuates after every election owing to the voting system, which combines a personal with a party vote.[60]  Currently, there are 631 total seats due to four “overhang seats” (Überhangmandate) and twenty-nine “balance seats” (Ausgleichsmandate).[61]  One of the members has stepped down and will not be replaced, so the total number of members is now 630.[62]

2.  Seat Allocation

The seat allocation in the German Bundestag corresponds to the number of votes cast for the party with the second vote.[63]  The first 299 seats are allocated to the candidates who were elected by personal vote (first vote).  The remaining seats are filled from the party lists.[64]  In the current Eighteenth German Bundestag, the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) parliamentary group has 310 seats, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has 193 seats, the Left Party has 64 seats, and Alliance ‘90/The Greens have 63 seats.  For the first time since 1949, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) is not represented in the Bundestag.[65]

3.  Parliamentary Groups

At least 5% of the members of the German Bundestag may form a parliamentary group (Fraktion).[66]  The members usually belong to the same party or hold the same political views.  If that is not the case, the formation of a parliamentary group requires permission from the Bundestag.  The formation of a parliamentary group enables the members to work together to achieve shared goals.

4.  Committees

For each electoral term, the Bundestag may set up permanent committees, which roughly correspond to the ministries of the government.  The committees prepare the deliberations and decisions of the Bundestag.[67]  More specialized committees are set up to deal with specific matters and are dissolved as soon as they have completed their work.[68]

5.  Key Leadership Roles

The key leadership role in the German Bundestag is held by the President of the Bundestag.[69]  Professor Norbert Lammert has served as President of the German Bundestag since October 2005 and was reelected on October 22, 2013.[70]

The President of the Bundestag represents the Bundestag and therefore the legislative branch in Germany externally.  One of his/her main responsibilities is to ensure the maintenance of parliamentary order when the Bundestag is in session.[71]

B.  German Bundesrat

1.  Members and Votes

The German Bundesrat has sixty-nine members consisting of representatives of the state governments.[72]  Each German state is awarded at least three votes.  States with more than two million inhabitants receive four votes, states with more than six million inhabitants five votes, and states with more than seven million inhabitants six votes.[73]  The number of votes determines the number of members that the state can send to the Bundesrat.[74]  Each state can cast its vote only en bloc.[75]

2.  Party Representation

Because the Bundesrat consists of representatives of the state governments, the political parties represented in the Bundesrat correspond to the current leadership in the state in question and change after elections are held in a state.  At present, the composition is as follows: the CSU is represented only in Bavaria, whereas the CDU is represented in the government of six states,[76] the SPD in fourteen states,[77] Alliance ‘90/The Greens in nine states,[78] the Left Party in two states,[79] and the South Schleswig Voters’ Association (SSW) as a party for the Danish minority only in Schleswig-Holstein.[80]

3.  Key Leadership Roles

Like the President of the Bundestag, the President of the Bundesrat holds the key leadership role.[81]  Every November 1, a Prime Minister from one of the German states is appointed as President of the Bundesrat for a one-year period.[82]  The office rotates between the German states based on population size, with the cycle starting with the Prime Minister from the most populous state and moving in descending order to the Prime Minister from the least populous state.  The current President of the Bundesrat for the period from November 1, 2015, to October 31, 2016, is Stanislaw Tillich, the Prime Minister of Saxony.[83]

The President of the Bundesrat represents the Bundesrat externally.[84]  His main responsibility is to convene and chair the Bundesrat’s plenary sessions.[85]  Furthermore, if the Federal President is unable to perform his duties or if his office falls prematurely vacant, the President of the Bundesrat exercises the Federal President’s powers.[86]

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IV.  Elections

A.  German Bundestag

Germany uses a personalized proportional voting system that combines a personal direct vote for a particular candidate in a district (first vote) with a party vote (second vote).[87]  There are 299 electoral districts.[88]  A party must receive at least 5% of the second votes or three direct mandates to be represented in the German Bundestag.[89]

Elections for the Bundestag are held every four years.[90]  The Basic Law imposes no term limits on members of the Bundestag.  The last election took place on September 22, 2013,[91] with a voter turnout of 71.5%.[92]  The next election will take place in the fall of 2017, but no specific date has yet been set.

The election law was amended in 2013 after the Federal Constitutional Court had declared the former version of the law unconstitutional owing to the negative vote weight effect caused by the overhang seats.[93]  Overhang seats are allocated to a party if, on the basis of the first votes, the number of seats for the party exceeds the number of seats allocated to the party following the second votes.[94]  Under the old system, receiving more second votes in one state could potentially cost the party seats in the final allocation of seats for the Bundestag.[95]

According to the current law, the seat allocation for every German state is calculated on the basis of the proportion of the German population living there.  Next, the seats in each state are allocated according to the party lists proportionate to the second votes each party receives.  In a subsequent step, the minimum number of seats for each party at the federal level is determined by adding up the minimum number of seats in the individual states.  The minimum number of seats for a party in a state is either the number of direct votes (first votes) or second votes it receives in that state, whichever is greater.  In order to ensure that each party receives seats proportionate to its share at the federal level, additional balance seats are awarded.[96]

The Basic Law mandates that the new German Bundestag must convene no later than the thirtieth day after the elections.[97]  During that period, coalition negotiations are held in order to form a government if no single party has received an absolute majority of the votes.  The current German government consists of a grand coalition of the CDU/CSU and SPD parties.[98]

B.  German Bundesrat

There are no direct elections for the Bundesrat.  As mentioned, above, the Bundesrat’s composition is determined by the composition of the sixteen German state governments and changes every time elections are held in a German state.

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V.  Legislative Process

A.  Legislative Initiative and Readings

A legislative initiative for a bill can be launched by the Federal Government, the Bundestag, or the Bundesrat.[99]  Every bill is read in the Bundestag three times before the final vote.[100]  After the initial first debate, the bill is referred to a committee, which reports on the bill and gives a recommendation with regard to adoption.[101]  During the second reading, amendments may be proposed.[102]  The final discussion takes into account the decisions from the second reading.  Amendments are possible only for changes made during the second phase.[103]  Once a bill is adopted by the Bundestag, it is referred to the Bundesrat.[104]

The subsequent procedure differs depending on whether the bill requires the consent of the Bundesrat (Zustimmungsgesetz) or not (Einspruchsgesetz).  The Basic Law exhaustively lists the types of bills that require the consent of the Bundesrat.[105]  In general these bills fall into one of three categories: (1) bills that amend the Basic Law, (2) bills that affect the finances of the states, or (3) bills that affect the organizational and administrative jurisdiction of the states.[106]

B.  Bills Requiring Consent of the German Bundesrat (Zustimmungsgesetz)

If the bill requires the consent of the Bundesrat and the Bundesrat consents, the bill is adopted by the Bundestag.[107]

If the Bundesrat disagrees, it can file a motion for discussion of the bill in the Mediation Committee to find a compromise.[108]  The Mediation Committee is composed of sixteen members of the Bundesrat and an equal number of members of the Bundestag.[109]  The members of the German Bundestag correspond to the size of the parliamentary groups in the Bundestag.  The Mediation Committee can only propose amendments, but cannot adopt a bill itself.

If the Mediation Committee proposes no amendments to the bill and the Bundesrat consents, the Bundestag adopts the bill.[110]  If the Bundesrat rejects the bill, the legislative initiative is defeated.[111]

If the Mediation Committee proposes an amendment, the amendment must be put to a vote in the Bundestag again before it can be discussed in the Bundesrat.[112]  If the Bundestag rejects the amendment, the bill is defeated.  If, on the other hand, the Bundestag accepts the amendment, it refers the amended bill to the Bundesrat.  The Bundesrat again has the option to consent so that the amended bill is adopted, or to reject the amended bill so that the amended bill is defeated.

C.  Bills Not Requiring Consent of the German Bundesrat (Einspruchsgesetz)

If a bill does not require the consent of the Bundesrat, the Bundesrat may still object and file a motion for discussion of the bill in the Mediation Committee.[113]

If the Mediation Committee proposes no amendments and the Bundesrat consents, the bill is adopted.  If on the other hand, the Mediation Committee proposes no amendments and the Bundesrat rejects the bill, it is forwarded to the Bundestag.  The Bundestag can either overrule the objection of the Bundesrat and adopt the bill or not overrule the objection and defeat the bill.[114]

If the Mediation Committee proposes an amendment, the Bundestag must vote on the changes again.[115]  If the Bundestag rejects the amendment, the bill is defeated.

If the Bundestag accepts the amendment, it refers the amended bill back to the Bundesrat.  If the Bundesrat also agrees to the changes, the amended bill is adopted.  In the event that the Bundesrat rejects the amended bill, the Bundestag has the option to overrule the objection and adopt the bill.  If there is no majority in the Bundestag to overrule the objection, the bill is defeated.[116]

D.  Signature and Entry into Force

Once an act is adopted by the German Bundestag, the Federal Government forwards it to the Federal President for his/her signature and publication in the Federal Law Gazette.[117]  An act takes effect on the date specified in the act or, if no date is specified, fourteen days after its publication in the Federal Law Gazette.[118]

E.  Special Procedures

The provision of the Basic Law dealing with budget law[119] contains a special procedure for expenditure-increasing and revenue-decreasing bills.  These bills require the consent of the Federal Government.[120]  The Federal Government can also demand that the Bundestag postpone its vote on such a bill[121] and demand a second vote on the bill within four weeks after its adoption by the Bundestag.[122]

During a “state of defense,”[123] the Basic Law mandates a simplified legislative procedure.[124]  Bills that are designated as urgent by the Federal Government are debated by the Bundestag and Bundesrat in a joint session without delay.[125]  If a bill requires the consent of the Bundesrat, a majority is required for the bill to become law.[126]

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Prepared by Jenny Gesley
Foreign Law Specialist
January 2016


[1] Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany and the Assumption of Supreme Authority with Respect to Germany by the Governments of the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United Kingdom, and the Provisional Government of the French Republic (Berlin Declaration), June 5, 1945, art. 1, 60 Stat. 1649, 68 U.N.T.S. 189, T.I.A.S. 1520, http://www.loc.gov/law/help/us-treaties/bevans/m-ust000003-1140. pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/Z7F7-TK9M.

[2] Proclamation No. 1 Establishing the Control Council, Aug. 30, 1945, Official Gazette of the Control Council for Germany No. 1, Oct. 29, 1945, pp. 4–5, available at http://www.cvce.eu/en/obj/proclamation_no_1_ from_the_control_council_for_germany_berlin_30_august_1945-en-3eac8464-14c7-4e9b-8759-ed51a7ab81ff.html, archived at http://perma.cc/7CL2-96Z5.

[3] Protocol Between the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, on the Zones of Occupation in Germany and the Administration of “Greater Berlin” (London Protocol), Sept. 12, 1944, 5 U.S.T. 2078, 227 U.N.T.S. 279, available at http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/pdf/ eng/Allied%20Policies%201_ENG.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/RJY2-ZH5N.

[4] Agreement as to Tripartite Controls, Apr. 8, 1949, 63 Stat. 2817, 2821, T.I.A.S. 2066, 140 U.N.T.S. 208, http:// www.loc.gov/law/help/us-treaties/bevans/m-ust000004-0832.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/35HV-STC6.

[5] Dokumente des geteilten Deutschland. Quellentexte zur Rechtslage des Deutschen Reiches, der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik XXV (Ingo von Münch ed., 1968).

[6] Grundgesetz für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland [Grundgesetz] [GG] [Basic Law], May 23, 1949, Bundesgesetzblatt [BGBl] [Federal Law Gazette] I at 1, arts. 38–49, unofficial English translation at http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_gg/basic_law_for_the_federal_republic_of_germany.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/DEF5-A57P.

[7] Former article 23 of the Basic Law read until 1990 as follows: “This Basic Law applies for the time being only in the states of Baden, Bavaria, Bremen, Greater Berlin, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein, Württemberg-Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern. It will enter into force in the other parts of Germany after their accession.”

[8] Basic Law arts. 38–49.

[9] Dokumente des geteilten Deutschland, supra note 5.

[10] Id.

[11] Occupation Statute of Germany, May 12, 1949, Official Gazette of the Allied High Commission for Germany, Sept. 23, 1949, No. 1, app., at 13, available at http://www.loc.gov/law/help/us-treaties/bevans/m-ust000004-0832.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/35HV-STC6.

[12] Id. arts. 4, 5.

[13] Letter from the Three Western Military Governors to the President of the Parliamentary Council, May 12, 1949, para. 4, reprinted in Dokumente des geteilten Deutschland, supra note 5, at 130, available at http://german historydocs.ghi-dc.org/pdf/eng/Founding%205%20ENG.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/C85P-X33B.

[14] Convention on Relations Between the Three Powers and the Federal Republic of Germany art. 1, para. 2, BGBl. 1954 II at 59 et seq., http://www.bgbl.de/xaver/bgbl/start.xav?startbk=Bundesanzeiger_BGBl&jumpTo=bgbl254s 0057.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/4DUC-NNFL.

[15] Beschluß der Volkskammer der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik über den Beitritt der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik zum Geltungsbereich des Grundgesetzes der Bundesrepublik Deutschland [Decision of the People’s Chamber of the German Democratic Republic to Accede to the Jurisdiction of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany], Aug. 23, 1990, Gesetzblatt der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik [GBl. DDR] [Official Gazette of the German Democratic Republic] I, No. 57, 4 Sept. 1990, at 1323–24, https:// www.bundesarchiv.de/tools/docview.html?file=/imperia/md/images/abteilungen/abtddr/volkskammerwahl/17_da_1_4042_blatt_050
_801x0_0_16.jpg
, archived at http://perma.cc/XYE5-HKTP.  For the text of article 23 of the Basic Law, see note 7.

[16] Gesetz zu dem Vertrag vom 3. August 1990 zur Vorbereitung und Durchführung der ersten gesamtdeutschen Wahl zwischen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und derDeutschen Demokratischen Republik sowie dem Änderungsvertrag vom 20. August 1990 [Act on the Agreement of August 3, 1990, to Prepare and Execute the First All-German Elections Between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic and on the Amending Agreement of August 20, 1990], Aug. 29, 1990, BGBl II, at 813, http://www.bgbl.de/xaver/bgbl/start. xav?startbk=Bundesanzeiger_BGBl&jumpTo=bgbl290s0813.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/D8C4-3M6P.

[17] Michael Kilian, Der Vorgang der Wiedervereinigung [The Process of Reunification], in Handbuch des Staatsrechts der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Band I. Historische Grundlagen [Handbook of Constitutional Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, Vol. I. Historical Background] 597, 643 (Josef Isensee & Paul Kirchhof eds., 2003).

[18] Der Parlamentarische Rat, 1948–1949: Akten u. Protokolle, Band 9. Plenum 683 (Deutscher Bundestag & Bundesarchiv eds., 1996).

[19] Deutscher Bundestag: Drucksachen und Protokolle [BT-Drs.] 1/14, pp. 341–43, http://dipbt.bundestag. de/doc/btp/01/01014.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/9737-DELB.

[21] See, e.g., BT-Drs. 1/63 (1950), p. 2309, http://dipbt.bundestag.de/doc/btp/01/01063.pdf, archived at http://perma. cc/N8TG-TVGT; BT-Drs. 2/3116 (1953), http://dipbt.bundestag.de/doc/btd/02/031/0203116.pdf, archived at http:// perma.cc/U888-62TE; BT-Drs. 2/190 (1957), p. 10812 et seq., http://dipbt.bundestag.de/doc/btp/02/02190. pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/EL6U-4TX3; BT-Drs. 9/43 (1981), p. 2480, http://dipbt.bundestag.de/doc/btp/09/ 09043.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/SLQ2-5E46.

[22] Vertrag zwischen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik über die Herstellung der Einheit Deutschlands (Einigungsvertrag) [Agreement Between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic on the Accomplishment of the Unification of Germany (Unification Agreement)], Aug. 31, 1990, BGBl. II at 889, art. 2, para. 1, sentence 1, http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/ bundesrecht/einigvtr/gesamt.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/W5NB-H8TU, unofficial English translation at http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/pdf/eng/Unification_Treaty.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/CS23-BZAL.

[23] Id.

[24] Vollendung der Einheit Deutschlands, June 19, 1991, BT-Drs. 12/815, http://dipbt.bundestag.de/doc/btd/12/ 008/1200815.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/W77Q-2LRW.

[25] Gesetz zur Umsetzung des Beschlusses des Deutschen Bundestages vom 20. Juni 1991 zur Vollendung der Einheit Deutschlands (Berlin/Bonn-Gesetz) [Act to Implement the Decision of the German Bundestag of June 20, 1991, to Complete the Unification of Germany (Berlin/Bonn Act)], Apr. 6, 1994, BGBl. I at 918, as amended, § 2, para. 1, http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bundesrecht/berlin_bonng/gesamt.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/WH 5V-VV6P.

[26] Nino Galetti, Der Bundestag als Bauherr in Berlin: Ideen, Konzepte, Entscheidungen zur politischen Architektur (1991–1998) [The Bundestag as a Builder in Berlin: Ideas, Concepts, Decisions on a Political Architecture (1991–1998)] at 75 (2008).

[27] Benjamin Carter Hett, Burning the Reichstag: An Investigation into the Third Reich’s Enduring Mystery 19–25 (2014).

[28] Michael S. Cullen, Streit um Symbole [Dispute Over Symbols], in “Dem Deutschen Volke.”  Der Bundestag im Berliner Reichtstagsgebäude [“For the German People.” The Bundestag in the Berlin Reichstag Building] 192, 199 (Heinrich Wefing ed., 1999).

[29] Gerhard Hahn, Für Bücher, Kinder, Wöchnerinnen [For Books, Children, Women in Childbed], in “Dem Deutschen Volke,” supra note 28, at 46, 56.

[30] Bernhard Schulz, Kosmos der Werte [Cosmos of Values], in “Dem Deutschen Volke,” supra note 28, at 211, 222.

[32] Galetti, supra note 26 , at 230.

[33] Sir Norman Foster, Ein optimistisches Zeichen für ein modernes Deutschland [An Optimistic Sign for a Modern Germany] in “Dem Deutschen Volke,” supra note 28, at 180, 185–86.

[34] Basic Law art. 20, para. 1.

[35] Id. arts. 38–49, 77.

[36] Id. arts. 20, para. 1; 38, para. 1.

[37] Siegfried Magiera, III. Der Bundestag, Art. 38, in Grundgesetz Kommentar [Basic Law Commentary] 1219, para. 21 (Michael Sachs ed., 7th ed. 2014).

[38] Basic Law art. 77, para. 1.

[39] Id. art. 50.

[40] Id. arts. 76–78.

[41] Id. art.76.

[42] Id. art. 45a.

[43] Id. art. 43.

[44] Id. art. 63, para. 1.

[45] Id. art. 63, para. 2.

[46] Id. arts. 62, 65.

[48] Basic Law art. 67, para. 1.

[49] Id. art. 64, para. 1.

[50] Id. art. 59.

[51] Curriculum vitae of Federal President Joachim Gauck, Der Bundespräsident, http://www.bundespraesident.de/ EN/Federal-President/CurriculumVitae/curriculumvitae-node.html, archived at http://perma.cc/GEC9-53R9.

[52] Basic Law art. 54, paras.1, 3.

[53] Id. art. 77, para. 1.

[54] Id. art. 77, paras. 2–4.

[55] Id. art. 53a.

[56] Id. art. 92–94.

[57] Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG], 37 Entscheidungen des Bundesverfassungsgerichts [BVerfGE] 363, 380 et seq.

[58] Thomas Mann, [Art. 77 Verfahren bei Gesetzesbeschlüssen] [Art. 77 Procedure for Adopting Legislation], in Grundgesetz Kommentar, supra note 37, at 1614, 1616, para. 2.

[59] Bundeswahlgesetz [BWahlG] [Federal Voting Act], July 23, 1993, BGBl. I at 1288, 1594, as amended, §§ 1, 6, para. 5, http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bundesrecht/bwahlg/gesamt.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/QW5Z-3SLL.

[60] BWahlG § 4.

[61] For a discussion of the election system and overhang and balance seats, see Part IV, infra.

[62] Katherina Reiche (Potsdam), CDU/CSU, Deutscher Bundestag https://www.bundestag.de/bundestag/ abgeordnete18/biografien/R/reiche_katherina/258916 (last visited Nov. 30, 2015), archived at http://perma.cc/ BJN8-G3YP.

[63] BWahlG § 6.

[64] Id. § 1, para. 2.

[65] Distribution of Seats in the 18th German Bundestag, Deutscher Bundestag, http://www.bundestag.de/htdocs_ e/bundestag/plenary/distributionofseats (last updated Sept. 21, 2015), archived at http://perma.cc/B77R-N3TL.

[66] Geschäftsordnung des Deutschen Bundestages [BTGO] [Rules of Procedure of the German Bundestag], June 25, 1980, BGBl. I at 1237, § 10, http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bundesrecht/btgo_1980/gesamt.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/78QT-J3TR.

[67] BTGO § 54, para. 1.

[68] Susanne Linn & Frank Sobolewski, The German Bundestag – Functions and Procedures 25 et seq. (2010), https://www.btg-bestellservice.de/pdf/80080000.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/PH2T-ZQ62.

[69] Basic Law art. 40.

[70] Professor Norbert Lammert, President of the Bundestag, Deutscher Bundestag, http://www.bundestag.de/ htdocs_e/bundestag/presidium/lammert_neu/lammert/246232 (last visited Nov. 30, 2016), archived at http://perma. cc/V7GX-S826.

[71] BTGO § 7.

[72] Basic Law art. 51.

[73] Id. art. 51, para. 2.

[74] Id. art. 51, para. 3.

[75] Id. art. 51, para. 3, sentence 2.

[76] Berlin, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Hesse.

[77] Berlin, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North-Rhine Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein, and Thuringia.

[78] Baden-Württemberg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North-Rhine Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein, and Thuringia.

[79] Brandenburg and Thuringia.

[81] Basic Law art. 52.

[82] Geschäftsordnung des Bundesrates [BRGO] [Rules of Procedure of the Bundesrat], Nov. 6, 1993, BGBl. I at 2007, as amended, § 5, para. 1, http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bundesrecht/brgo_1966/gesamt.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/SHT7-32EJ.

[83] Bundesratspräsident Stanislaw Tillich, Bundesrat, http://www.bundesrat.de/DE/bundesrat/praesidium/ praesident/praesident-node.html (last visited Nov. 30, 2015), archived at http://perma.cc/R2DL-M9G4.

[84] BRGO § 6, para. 1.

[85] Basic Law art. 52, para. 2.

[86] Id. art. 57.

[87] BWahlG § 4.

[88] Id. § 2, para. 2, in conjunction with the Annex.

[89] Id. § 6, para. 3.

[90] Id. art. 39, para. 1.

[91] Election to the 18th German Bundestag, The Federal Returning Officer, http://www.bundeswahlleiter.de/en/ bundestagswahlen/BTW_BUND_13/ (last visited Nov. 30, 2015), archived at http://perma.cc/3QPR-NUSQ.

[92] Federal Result, Final Result of the Election to the German Bundestag 2013, The Federal Returning Officer, http://www.bundeswahlleiter.de/en/bundestagswahlen/BTW_BUND_13/ergebnisse/bundesergebnisse/index.html, (last visited Nov. 30, 2015), archived at http://perma.cc/P8Y5-VNJN.

[94] Id. at 316, 321.

[95] Id. at 316, 346–47.

[96] BWahlG § 6, paras. 2–7.

[97] Basic Law art. 39, para. 2.

[98] Deutschlands Zukunft gestalten, Koalitionsvertrag zwischen CDU, CSU und SPD, 18. Legislaturperiode [Shaping Germany’s Future, Coalition Agreement Between CDU, CSU and SPD, 18th Legislative Period], http://www. bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/_Anlagen/2013/2013-12-17-koalitionsvertrag.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=2, archived at http://perma.cc/4CJS-UQ8M.

[99] Basic Law art. 76.

[100] BTGO arts. 78–86.

[101] Id. art.  80.

[102] Id. art. 82.

[103] Id. art. 85.

[104] Basic Law art. 77, para. 1, sentence 2.

[105] Id. arts. 16a, paras. 2 & 3; 23, paras. 1 & 7; 29, para. 7; 72, para. 3; 73, para. 2; 74, para. 2; 79, para. 2; 84, paras. 1 & 5; 85, para. 1; 87, para. 3; 87b, paras. 1 & 2; 87c; 87d, para. 2; 87e, para. 5; 87f, para. 1; 91a, para. 2; 96, para. 5; 104a, paras. 4–6; 104b, para. 2; 105, para. 3; 106, paras. 3–6; 106a, sentence 2; 107, para. 1; 108, paras. 2, 4, 5; 109, paras. 3–5; 115c, paras. 1 & 3; 115k, para. 3; 115l, para. 1; 120a, para. 1; 134, para. 4; 135, para. 5; 135a; 143a, para. 1.

[106] Consent and Objection Bills, Bundesrat, http://www.bundesrat.de/EN/funktionen-en/gesetzgebung-en/zust-einspr-en/zust-einspr-en-node.html (last visited Nov. 30, 2015), archived at http://perma.cc/QPF7-R34D.

[107] Basic Law art. 78.

[108] Id. art.  77, para. 2.

[109] Id.; Gemeinsame Geschäftsordnung des Bundestages und des Bundesrates für den Ausschuss nach Artikel 77 GG (Vermittlungsausschuß) [Joint Rules of Procedure of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat for the Committee Established According to Article 77 of the Basic Law (Mediation Committee)] § 1, Apr. 19, 1951, BGBl. II at 103, as amended, http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bundesrecht/btbrggo/gesamt.pdf, archived at http://perma.cc/97LN-64DM.

[110] Basic Law art. 78.

[111] Id. art. 77, para. 2a.

[112] Id. art. 77, para. 2, sentence 5.

[113] Id. art. 77, paras. 2 & 3.

[114] Id. art. 77, para. 4.

[115] Id. art. 77, para. 2, sentence 5.

[116] Id. art. 77, para. 4.

[117] Id. art. 82, para. 1.

[118] Id. art. 82, para. 2.

[119] Id. art. 113.

[120] Id. art. 113, para. 1.

[121] Id.

[122] Id. art. 113, para. 2.

[123] According to article 115a, paragraph 1 of the Basic Law, a “state of defense” exists if there is a “determination that the federal territory is under attack by armed force or imminently threatened with such an attack.”

[124] Id. art. 115d.

[125] Id. art. 115d, para.  2, sentence 2.

[126] Id. art. 115d, para. 2, sentence 3.

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Last Updated: 02/12/2016