According to Countryaah.com, with capital city of Berlin, Germany is a country located in Western Europe with total population of 83,783,953.
State and politics
Germany reunited since 1990 is a federal state with 16 states, three of which are city states. One of these is Berlin, which since 1991 is Germany’s capital and seat of the Federal Parliament and the Federal Government. The state is governed by the Constitution adopted in 1949 for the Federal Republic of Germany, i.e.. then West Germany. Democracy, federal division of power, strong legal order, guarantee of human rights and a social protection network for all citizens form the basis of the German state.
The head of state is the president of the federation, who is elected for a five-year term (re-election possible) by an election assembly with as many representatives of both chambers of parliament. Elected are eligible citizens who are 40 years of age. From March 2017, the office is held by Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Social Democrat). In principle, the president has only representative tasks, but despite this, the political dispute between the parties about the post is usually intense.
The Federal Parliament has two chambers: the Federation Day with directly elected members from all over Germany and the Federal Council whose members represent the state governments. The Constitution shares power over legislation between federal and state levels. In the former, there are areas where the requirement for uniform regulation is high, such as foreign policy, financial and monetary policy, defense, certain social welfare issues and environmental protection. Areas not designated as federal fall within the federal legislative competence. The administrative implementation of decisions made at both levels is managed by the states.
The Bundestag must approve all laws that apply to Germany as a whole. The number of members is 598. The design of the election system means that the actual number can be higher. After the 2017 election, the 19th Covenant Day consisted of 709 members.
Elections to the Bundestag are to be held within four years from the time of the last election. The possibility of announcing elections in advance has been used only a few times (most recently in 2005). Voters have two votes. The first must be submitted to a named candidate (person selection). The other is placed on a party (party). In order to participate in the distribution of seats, the party must have received a total of at least 5 percent of the vote in all of Germany. If a party has received more mandates through voting rights than it is entitled to in the percentage distribution (based on the voters’ second vote) it may retain these mandates (overhang mandate). If a party has not received 5 percent of the votes but won at least three mandates with first votes, it may be included in the general distribution of seats.
In 2013, a new electoral system was decided that affects the distribution of mandates. The previous system of overhang mandates has been supplemented by the establishment of a minimum mandate for each party’s representation at the federal level. This lowest total representation level for the parties in 2017 came to 644 seats, with 46 members being appointed on an overhang mandate. In addition, a system of equalization mandates was introduced to make the total distribution of seats correspond to the percentage distribution based on the voters’ second votes. After the 2017 election, there were 65 equalization mandates. A growing number of parties on the Bundestag and a declining share of votes for the two largest parties CDU/CSU and SPD point to a future increase in the overhang and equalization mandate.
The Federal Councilmust approve all legislation relating to areas where the constitution gives the states decision-making power. It has 69 members. The 16 states send three to six representatives, depending on the population. These represent the state governments. When voting, they can only cast their votes as a unit. This can create problems, for example, when the composition of a state government differs from that of the federal government, as is the case (2019) in 12 states (both government and opposition party). These may abstain from voting. If the Federal Council and the Bundestag cannot agree, the matter is referred to the Mediation Committee. It is proposed that the members of the Federal Council also be elected directly by the citizens. The daily work of the Federal Council is often delegated to officials,
The executive power at the federal level is exercised by the Chancellor in the leadership of the Federal Government. The Chancellor is elected by the Covenant Day and can be deposed only through a constructive distrust, which means that there must be a majority for a new Chancellor. In the Federal Government, the Chancellor has a strong position because of his power to formulate the political guidelines.
The states have a decisive influence in areas such as schools, health care and the police. Political power is exercised by a directly elected state parliament. How many members this has, as well as the extent of the state administration, depends on the state’s population. The most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia has 18 million residents, while the smallest, Bremen, has 660,000. Members are elected in direct elections for a period of four or five years. The elections are conducted in the way that each state decides. The state government is led by a prime minister/mayor (the latter in Bremen, Hamburg and Berlin). In 2019, 10 out of 16 state governments consisted of coalitions between two parties. Six states are governed by a government of three parties.
In Germany there is a well-developed system for local self-government. What is included in this is primarily a matter for state-level regulation. There is great interest in local politics. Attempts to lower voting age (16 years) have been made in some municipalities.
The monitoring of the political institutions and their activities is carried out through a judicial system of courts at both federal and state levels. Constitutional courts can raise complaints from citizens, prohibit individual political parties and determine whether laws and decisions are consistent with the constitution and state law.
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party in Bavaria, the Christlich Soziale Union (CSU), have played a prominent role in German politics since the late 1940s. Their party programs are based on Christian, social and humanitarian values in the context of market economics. During much of the post-war period, the CDU/CSU formed the basis of government power, first in West Germany, later in the United Germany. The party has held the Chancellor’s post 1949-69, 1982-98 and since 2005. Party color for both CDU and CSU is black.
The Free Democratic Party (FDP) is a liberal party that has been a coalition partner of both Christian Democrats and Social Democrats. The party color is yellow.
Social Democratic Party of Deutschlands, (SPD), which is a traditional European social democratic party with close links to the trade union movement, has been a member of several coalition governments since the 1960s and held the Chancellor’s post 1969-82 and 1998-2005, when the SPD co-ruled with Die Grünen. Since 2013, the SPD has been part of a so-called large coalition together with CDU/CSU. The party color is red.
Die Linke, founded in 2007. The party’s base is mainly in the eastern parts of Germany and among trade unionists who are dissatisfied with social democratic politics. Die Linke’s party color is red (sometimes purple or pink to distinguish the party from the SPD).
Die Grünen (really Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) joined the federation in 1983. Germany’s environmental party has since broadened its political program. In 1993, the environmental party merged with Bündnis 90, a party of civil rights activists founded during the democratization process in East Germany. The party co-governed with the SPD in 1998-2005. The party color is green.
Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) was formed in the spring of 2013 by people critical of the euro and the various support packages that, with the help of, among other things, German public funds, were used to save the economy in crisis-stricken euro countries. In 2015, the party’s new leadership began to focus less on economic policy issues. Success can mainly be explained by its immigration resistance, ever-stronger anti-Islamism and xenophobia, sharpened EU criticism and the nationalist right-wing profile. With 12.6 percent of the votes in 2017, the AfD became the third largest party in Germany and thus gained a seat on the Bundestag. The party color is light blue.
Other parties include the Piratenpartei Deutschland (Piraten), which was formed in 2006 and mainly attracted younger voters with their focus on the fight against state regulation and control of online activities. In general, the party describes itself as socially liberal-progressive and promotes political openness and a stronger element of direct democracy. The party received a mandate in the elections to the European Parliament in 2014 and 2019, but since 2013 it has noted poor results at the federal and metropolitan levels.
The Nationalist and Immigration Critical Party NPD – Die Volksunion was formed in 2011 by merging two parties with longer historical roots, NPD and DVU. The party has not been represented at the federal level and is no longer a member of a state parliament or the European Parliament after the success of the AfD.
In the Bundestag election 2017, 48 parties were up for election. Among those who received votes but did not receive a mandate include the Animal Protection Party, the Ecological Democratic Party, the Free Electorate and the Party (Die Partei).
The government issue was completely open after the 2013 election, as CDU’s coalition partner FDP dropped out of the Bundestag. Die Grünen and CDU/CSU stood too far apart in several key issues for a cooperation between the parties to be realistic. The possibility of the SPD, Die Grünen and Die Linke forming a red-green-pink coalition government was also discussed, but opposition to a federal government in which Die Linke was included was significant within both the SPD and Grüne.
The only alternative that remained was a “big coalition” between CDU/CSU and SPD. After lengthy negotiations between the parties and a member vote in the SPD, such a government could be formed in December 2013. Angela Merkel remained as Chancellor and SPD’s then leader Sigmar Gabriel was appointed Deputy Head of Government and Minister for Trade and Industry. During the term of office, the parties in the coalition government faced increasing difficulties in retaining voter support. What was considered to be mainly behind the decline was the government’s, and not least Chancellor Merkel’s actions in the refugee issue in 2015-16. The dissatisfaction with government policy has been channeled mainly through the Altenative für Deutschland (AfD).
Prior to the Bundestag election in 2017, the major parties’ programs were considered to be too similar and lacking profile issues, and CDU/CSU and SPD noted record low voter support. The smaller parties, in particular the AfD, achieved all major or minor successes, which is seen as proof that Germany has also been aware of the changed political trends that have characterized several European countries in recent years. The turnout in 2017 rose from 71.5 to 76.2 percent.
After the 2017 election, a weakened CDU invited CSU, FDP and Die Grünen to talks about future government participation. The German system is based on the government having a majority support on the Bundestag. To achieve this, a government must build on continued cooperation between CDU / CSU and SPD, or on cooperation between CDU/CSU and both FDP and Die Grünen. Neither AfD nor Die Linke were seen as possible government parties.
On the election night, SPD already announced that continued government cooperation with the CDU/CSU was excluded. SPD leader Martin Schulz believed that the main reason for the SPD’s poor election results was Angela Merkel’s weak leadership of the government. In this situation, the alternative remained to form a so-called Jamaica coalition between CDU/CSU, FDP and Die Grünen (after the party colors black-yellow-green). No such has ever occurred at the federal level, but existed at the state level.
Merkel could not imagine leading a minority government and when the FPD left the negotiating table, new elections seemed to be the only remaining option. However, opposition to new elections was strong and increased pressure on the SPD. However, the issue of participation in a new major coalition with CDU and CSU was controversial. The SPD therefore had an extra-partisan vote in which 66 percent of the delegates voted for continued negotiations. Party leader Martin Schulz was forced to step down.
Angela Merkel was elected by the Bundestag in March 2018 as Chancellor for the period 2018-21, her fourth Chancellor’s term. The new federal government consisted of nine ministers from the CDU/CSU and six from the SPD. Noteworthy was that the SPD was given the two politically heavy posts as finance minister and foreign minister. This was seen as a remission to the SPD and caused criticism within the CDU/CSU. The government consisted of seven women and nine men. The average age was lower than in previous government education.
When the SPD decided to join a new government with the CDU and CSU, this meant that the right-wing nationalist AfD became the largest opposition party in the Bundestag. This gives access to longer speaking time and several committee chair positions, which can strengthen the political profile of the party.
Government cooperation within the “big coalition” has been questionable. Political disagreement has been openly demonstrated not only between the CDU and the SPD, but also between the CSU and the other parties. During the fall of 2018, all the government parties were granted major vote losses in the state elections. Criticism against the federal government’s policy intensified and public opinion support dropped. Merkel announced in October 2018 that she did not run for the post of CDU chair at the party congress in December, but intended to continue as Chancellor for the term of office, that is to the election 2021. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, former secretary general, was elected new CDU chair in the party and Prime Minister of Saarland.
For all government parties, it appeared necessary to renew their political programs in order to regain voter support. In 2018, the opposition parties had strengthened their positions and sharpened criticism of the government’s policies. The elections to the European Parliament in May 2019 became a test of whether government support continued to decline or not.
Turnout increased by just over 13 percent, which was the highest figure in 30 years. The Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling in 2014 (where the percentage bar for representation was annulled) opened new possibilities for smaller parties. The result was that 14 German parties were elected to the European Parliament.
Both the government parties, CDU (29 percent) and SPD (16 percent), but also Die Linke, made a worse election than 2014. The SPD lost more than two million voters. Two weeks after the European elections, Andrea Nahles (born 1970) quit as party chairman.
Die Grünen had the greatest success, which became the second largest party (21 percent) and managed to more than double its mandate.
The AfD was given eleven seats and a further seven smaller parties a seat each. The Pirate Party and the Party (Die Partei), who in their election campaign expressed EU criticism by satirizing the European Parliament (“Spass Parliament”), each defended their mandate from the previous period. New in Parliament with a mandate was the party Volt, a newly founded pro-European political party that gathered nearly 250,000 votes.
Results on election to Bundestag (percentage and number of seats)
|CDU||SDP||AFD||FDP||The Left||The Greens||CSU|
|2017||26.8 (200)||20.5 (153)||12.6 (94)||10.7 (80)||9.2 (69)||8.9 (67)||6.2 (46)|
|2013||34.1 (145)||25.7 (113)||–||4.8 (0)||8.6 (64)||8.4 (63)||7.7 (36)|
Source: Der Bundeswahlleiter.
Coalition governments exist in each of Germany’s 16 states, and even the traditionally CSU-led government in Bavaria has become a coalition government. In 2017, it was noted that the federal government coalitions have a more varied composition than before; for example, pink-red-green, red-black, red-green-yellow, black-green-yellow and black-green. Most state governments are led by one of the major parties, but there are exceptions. In Baden-Württemberg, for example, the state government since 2011 has been led by the environmental party Die Grünen, which cooperates with the CDU.
At the October state elections in Hesse and Bavaria in 2018, the government parties declined sharply, which in all likelihood contributed to Merkel’s decision not to run for the party leadership post.
Compared to the elections in Hesse 2013, both CDU and SPD rebounded substantially, CDU with 11 percentage points to historically low 27 percent, SPD from 31 percent to 20 percent. Things went better for Die Grünen, who went ahead by 9 percentage points and ended up at exactly the same level as the SPD. The right-wing populist AfD (Alternative für Deutschland), for the first time, took office in the state parliament with 13 percent of the vote.
In the Bavarian state elections, CDU’s sister party CSU lost 10.5 percent compared to 2013, but still managed to become the largest party with just over 37 percent of the vote. The Greens became the second largest party with 18 percent, followed by Freie Wähler (12 percent), a small party with a strong focus on municipal politics, right-wing populist AfD (10 percent) and Social Democratic SPD (10 percent). The election meant that CSU lost the absolute majority that has been in the state parliament since the 1960s. The success of the AfD meant that they now sat in all state parliaments.
The trend from the EU elections was confirmed at two East German state elections in 2019. The government parties CDU and SPD continued to lose voter support, as did the Left, which was a government in Brandenburg. AfD and Die Grünen became the big winners.
In Saxony, the CDU became the largest party with 32 percent of the votes closely followed by the AfD with a record high 28 percent. Both Die Linke (10 percent) and Die Grünen (9 percent) were former SPDs with historically weak 8 percent. Compared to increasingly poor election results in recent years, the state election in Brandenburg can be seen as a relative success for the SPD.
The SPD lost 6 percent but received the most votes from all parties (26 percent), followed by the AfD (24 percent) and CDU (16 percent). Like the AfD, Die Grünen repeated its successes in other elections and doubled its mandate (11 percent).
Together with the results of the election in Saxony, this means that Die Grünen is about to establish itself more and more in the eastern part of Germany, where the party has had weak support since the reunification in 1990.
With minus 8 percentage points, Die Linke is on the losing side. The party has lost its status as the most important East German regional party to the AfD.
The legal order in Germany is mainly codified in large statutes, of which the most important is the civil law Bürgerliches Lawbook (BGB) influenced by Roman law. BGB has exerted a strong influence on, among other things, Japanese civil law and is known for its logical structure and clarity, which is, however, achieved at the expense of the text’s elegance and comprehensibility for a non-lawyer.
Other kodifikationerna labeled Commercial Code Commercial Code (HGB), ZPO Zivilprozessordnung (ZPO) criminal law Strafgesetzbuch (StGB), criminal procedure Strafprozessordnung (StPO), the Administrative Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz (VwVfG) and Administrative Procedure Verwaltungsgerichtsordnung (VwGO). Each state has its own parliament with some limited legislative competence, but the major codifications and other legal rules of greater importance are common to the entire country.
The judiciary in Germany is characterized by the fact that only the highest courts belong to the federal state apparatus, while the other courts are a state matter. At the head of the general courts is the Federal Court Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) in Karlsruhe, which examines only legal issues and does not deal with purely factual and evidentiary issues. Under BGH are a number of appellate courts called the Oberlandesgericht (OLG). In the first instance, the cases are decided by a Landgericht (LG) or, in the case of small, rental and family law cases, by an Amtsgericht(AG). Some local deviations occur. The judicial organization is complicated by the fact that one and the same court, depending on the nature of the case, may have a variety of judicial compositions.
In addition to the general courts, Germany has several administrative courts (Verwaltungsgerichte), social insurance courts (Sozialgerichte), labor courts (Arbeitsgerichte), tax courts (Finanzgerichte) and last but not least a federal constitutional court (Bundesverfassungsgericht). German law has been affected by the adaptation requirements that result from its membership in the EU. The death penalty was abolished in West Germany in 1949 and in East Germany in 1987. The last execution in West Germany took place in 1949 and in East Germany in 1987.
The influx of refugees from war-torn overseas countries has reinforced national conservative tendencies. In 2015, ethnic non-Germans were subjected to repeated violent attacks. During the year, hundreds of arson attacks were made against German asylum dwellers, mainly carried out by persons and groups with right-wing sympathies as an expression of anti-Muslim racism and ultranationalism. Independent observers have questioned the country’s rapid procedure for determining refugee status for asylum seekers gives the applicants a fair trial. Anti-Semitic manifestations are frequent in the country.
Special legislation on violence against women exists since 1975. The measures that are mainly applied are based on the prevention of violence, supporting affected women and prosecuting perpetrators. In Germany, there are more than 350 women’s houses where women who are victims of violence can seek help.
Prostitution is regulated by the prostitution legislation which recognizes prostitution as a profession and thus gives the prostitute access to the social security system. A distinction is made between professional prostitution and forced prostitution that are linked to, for example, violence or trafficking. Germany is both a transit and destination country for victims of trafficking in which children and young people are primarily exploited for sex trafficking, a human rights crime that is constantly increasing. A majority of the victims are from Central and Eastern Europe. However, the dark figure for sex trafficking in Germany is large, with few victims reporting crimes, which means that perpetrators are rarely sentenced, neither for the rape of a minor or for theft.
Social violence and discrimination to a large extent affect the HBTQ group. In 2013, gay couples were not equal heterosexual couples when it came to tax issues. A heterosexual German couple who got married in the country is jointly taxed and the couple’s joint tax is further reduced if the couple has children. Thus, these rules do not include same-sex couples who have entered into partnerships, which means that these comparatively pay more in tax. The issue of gay couples being given the opportunity to adopt children in Germany is flaring up at regular intervals in the public debate, but in 2016 there was no such statutory opportunity.
Heads of State
Kings and Emperors 1
|Carolingian rulers over the East Frankish Empire|
|768-814||Karl I (the great; emperor 800–814)|
|814-840||Louis I (the pious; Emperor 813–840)|
|840-843||interregnum (civil war)|
|843-876||Louis II (the German)|
|876-880||Karloman (of Bavaria)|
|876-882||Louis III (the younger; of Saxony, Thuringia, Franken, and from 880 of Bavaria)|
|876-887||Charles III (the thick; from Swabia to 882, then the whole empire; Emperors 881 to 888)|
|887-899||Arnulf (Emperor 896–899)|
|900-911||Louis IV (The Child)|
|Saxon Family (Liudolfinger)|
|919-936||Henrik I (The Bird Catcher)|
|936-973||Otto I (the Great; Emperor 962–973)|
|973-983||Otto II (Emperor 967–983)|
|983-1002||Otto III (Emperor 996–1002)|
|1002-24||Henry II (Emperor 1014–24)|
|1024-39||Konrad II (Emperor 1027–39)|
|1039-56||Henry III (Emperor 1046–56)|
|1056-1105||Henry IV (Emperor 1084–1105)|
|1077-80||Rudolf von Rheinfelden, Duke of Swabia (motkung)|
|1081-88||Herman, Count of Salmon (counter-king)|
|1105-25||Henrik V (Emperor 1111–25)|
|The house Supplinburg|
|1125-37||Lothar II (Emperor 1133–37)|
|The house Hohenstaufen|
|1127-35||Konrad III (first time; counter-king)|
|1138-52||Konrad III (second time)|
|1152-90||Fredrik I Barbarossa (Emperor 1155–90)|
|1190-97||Henry VI (Emperor 1191–97)|
|1198-1208||Philip, Duke of Swabia|
|The house Welf|
|1198-1214||Otto IV (Emperor 1209–14)|
|The house Hohenstaufen|
|1212-50||Fredrik II (Emperor 1220–50)|
|1246-47||Henrik Raspe, Countess of Thuringia (counter-king)|
|1247-56||William, Count of Holland (counter-king)|
|Late Medieval Dynasties|
|1273-91||Rudolf I (Habsburg)|
|1298-1308||Albreek I (Habsburg)|
|1308-13||Henry VII (Luxembourg; Emperor 1312–13)|
|1314-47||Ludvig IV (Bayraren; Wittelsbach; Emperor 1328–47)|
|1314-26||Frederick III (the beautiful; Habsburg; counter-king)|
|1346-78||Karl IV (Luxembourg; Emperor 1355–78)|
|1349||Günther (Schwarzburg; motkung)|
|1400-10||Ruprecht of Pfalz (Wittelsbach)|
|1410-37||Sigmund (Luxembourg; Emperor 1433–37)|
|1410-11||Jobst (Luxembourg; motkung)|
|The house Habsburg|
|1440-93||Fredrik III (Emperor 1452–93)|
|1493-1519||Maximilian I (Emperor 1508-19)|
|1519-56||Karl V (Emperor 1530–56)|
|1556-64||Ferdinand I (Emperor 1558–64) 3|
|The house Wittelsbach|
|The house (Habsburg-) Lorraine-Tuscany|
|The house Hohenzollern|
|Presidents (Weimar Republic)|
|1925||Walter Simons 4|
|1925-34||Paul von Hindenburg|
|Leaders (Third Reich)|
|1934-45||Adolf Hitler 5|
|President (Third Reich)|
|Presidents (Federal Republic of Germany
[West Germany], from 1990 United States)
|1984-94||Richard von Weizsäcker|
|2010||Jens Böhrnsen (acting president)|
|2012||Horst Seehofer (acting president)|
1 Prior to Otto I, the imperial title was not linked to the Eastern Franconian (ie German) empire. Even later German kings must be crowned emperors in a special ceremony (usually performed in Rome by the Pope).
2 During this period, Richard, Duke of Cornwall, and Alfons, King of Castile (Alfons X), were elected but not widely recognized kings.
3 In the future, only the years for Caesar’s title are given.
4 Deputy President.
5 After Hindenburg’s death in 1934 until 1939, Hitler was entitled “Führer und Reichskanzler”, then only “Führer”.
National Chancellor and Federal Chancellor
|1871-90||Otto von Bismarck|
|1890-94||Leo from Caprivi|
|1894-1900||Chlodwig to Hohenlohe-Schillingfürst|
|1900-09||Bernhard von Bülow|
|1909-17||Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg|
|1917-18||Georg von Hertling|
|1918||Max, Prince of Baden|
|1932||Franz von Papen|
|1932-33||Kurt von Schleicher|
|1933-39||Adolf Hitler *|
|Federal Chancellor (Federal Republic of Germany [West Germany], 1990 United States)|
|1966-69||Kurt Georg Kiesinger|
* Hitler had the title of Chancellor in 1933–34, 1934–39 entitled “Führer und Reichskanzler”, 1939–45 only “Führer”.
East Germany (German Democratic Republic)
|Chairman of the Government *|
|Prime Ministers **|
|1990||Lothar the Maizière|
|Secretary-General of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) ***|
|* Until 1960, the title of president was used.
** Until 1960, the title of state president was used.
*** In 1953-71 the title of first secretary was used.