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Germany Government & Political System / States of Germany

Germany: Location within Europe
Germany: Location within Europe

Back to Overview: Germany: Overview of Government, Politics, Geography, Economics

Full country name

Federal Republic of Germany
-in German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland

Government type

Federal Republic
-in German: Bundesrepublik

Germany is a modern and stable democracy. Tourist facilities are highly developed (see Germany Travel Destinations). In larger towns, many people can communicate in English.



Government name and location

The German name for the government is ‘Bundesregierung’ with its headquarter in Berlin. The parliament is called the ‘Bundestag’ and is one arm of the legislative branch.
Deutscher Bundestag (Besucherdienst), Platz der Republik 1, 11011 Berlin.
The second arm is the Federal Council called ‘Bundesrat’ (Leipziger Straße 3-4, D-10117 Berlin (the building is called ‘Preußisches Herrenhaus’))

Administrative divisions

16 states (in German: Länder; singular – Land);

A State in Germany is called “Bundesland”. After the reunion with former East Germany (GDR) Germany now consists of 16 states:

  • Baden-Wurttemberg (German name: Baden-Württemberg; capital: Stuttgart)
  • Bavaria (German name: Bayern; capital: Munich)
  • Berlin (is a “Stadtstaat” meaning that it is a city with State status)
  • Brandenburg (capital: Potsdam)
  • Bremen (is a “Stadtstaat” meaning that it is a city with State status)
  • Hamburg (is a “Stadtstaat” meaning that it is a city with State status)
  • Hesse (German name: Hessen; capital: Wiesbaden)
  • Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (German name: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern; capital: Schwerin)
  • Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen; capital: Hannover)
  • North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen; capital: Düsseldorf)
  • Rhineland-Palatinate (German name: Rheinland-Pfalz; capital: Mainz)
  • Saarland (capital: Saarbrücken)
  • Saxony (German name: Sachsen; capital: Dresden)
  • Saxony-Anhalt (German name: Sachsen-Anhalt; capital: Magdeburg)
  • Schleswig-Holstein (capital: Kiel)
  • Thuringia (German name: Thüringen; capital: Erfurt)


23 May 1949, known as Basic Law (in German: das Grundgesetz); became constitution of the united Germany 3 October 1990.
[Editorial note: even though constitution can be translated ‘Verfassung’ it is not the correct expression if you want to refer to Grundgesetz. Use always ‘Grundgesetz’ when referring to the German constitution.]

Legal system

Civil law system with indigenous concepts; judicial review of legislative acts in the Federal Constitutional Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.


18 years of age; universal;

Executive branch

Chief of state: Federal President FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER
Head of government: Chancellor Angela MERKEL (since 22 November 2005)
Cabinet: Cabinet or Bundesminister (Federal Ministers) appointed by the president on the recommendation of the chancellor.

Elections: president elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second term) by a Federal Convention, including all members of the Federal Assembly and an equal number of delegates elected by the state parliaments;
chancellor is elected by an absolute majority of the Federal Assembly for a four-year term; Bundestag vote for Chancellor.

Legislative branch

Bicameral legislature consists of the Federal Council or Bundesrat (69 seats; state governments sit in the Council; Each has three to six votes in proportion to population and are required to vote as a block) and the Federal Assembly or Bundestag (The constitutional minimum number of seats is 598; with overhang and leveling seats there are currently 709 seats. members elected by popular vote for a four-year term under a system of personalized proportional representation; a party must win 5% of the national vote or three direct mandates to gain proportional representation and caucus recognition).

The Bundestag is the German federal parliament. It can be compared to the lower house of parliament along the lines of the United States House of Representatives, the Irish Dáil Éireann or the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, with the Bundesrat, though a separate institution, having a similar role to the upper house of a bicameral parliament.
The Bundestag was established by chapter III of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany[1] (Constitution) in 1949 as one of the legislative bodies of Germany and thus the historical successor to the earlier Reichstag.
See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundestag

Judicial branch

Federal Constitutional Court or Bundesverfassungsgericht (half the judges are elected by the Bundestag and half by the Bundesrat).

Political parties and leaders

  • Greens
  • Christian Democratic Union or CDU
  • Christian Social Union or CSU
  • Free Democratic Party or FDP
  • Left Party or Die Linke
  • Social Democratic Party or SPD

Political pressure groups

business associations and employers’ organizations; trade unions; religious, immigrant, expellee, and veterans groups

National Holiday

Unity Day, 3 October (1990)


18 January 1871 (German Empire unification); divided into four zones of occupation (UK, US, USSR, and later, France) in 1945 following World War II; Federal Republic of Germany (FRG or West Germany) proclaimed 23 May 1949 and included the former UK, US, and French zones; German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany) proclaimed 7 October 1949 and included the former USSR zone; West Germany and East Germany unified 3 October 1990; all four powers formally relinquished rights 15 March 1991

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