The German political system as we know it today is based on the Basic Law or “Grundgesetz”, approved by the Western Allies and adopted by the Parliamentary Council in May 1949 for the Federal Republic of Germany. It remained in effect after 1990 with only minor amendments and became the constitution for the reunified Germany as a democratic, federal parliamentary republic.
The federal legislative power is divided between parliament, Bundestag (lower house), and the representative body of the regional states, Bundesrat (upper house).
The Electoral System: Complicated But Fair
Political magazine Der Spiegel has called the German electoral system “complicated to the point that not even most Germans completely understand it. But it is one of the fairest around.” It is a mixed electoral system, where half the members of parliament are elected from party lists by proportional representation, while the other half are elected in single member constituencies. In order to benefit from proportional representation, a party must obtain at least 5 percent of the votes cast.
Then there’s a complex system to even out the share of direct mandates and results achieved by the party votes so that overall representation is proportionate. This means Bundestag can have more than the base number of 598 seats.
Once constituted after an election, Bundestag elects the Federal Chancellor, the Bundeskanzlerin or Bundeskanzler. As head of government, she or he nominates her Cabinet, the Federal Ministers.
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting LLP, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals, members or employees.
Ms. Ledosquet joined FTI Consulting’s London office in 2000 and advised clients from various sectors in strategic communications, initially focussed on financial market communication and international assignments. After moving back to Germany in 2005, she supported clients in corporate and change communication. Since 2010, Ms. Ledosquet co-heads FTI Consulting’s Berlin based public affairs practice covering predominantly energy, finance and consumer protection policy. Prior to FTI Consulting, she was international communications manager at British Airways plc.