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Government and Politics Links

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The government is parliamentary and based on a democratic constitution that emphasizes the protection of individual liberty and division of powers in a federal structure. The chancellor (prime minister) heads the executive branch of the federal government. The duties of the president (chief of state) are largely ceremonial; power is exercised by the chancellor. Elected by and responsible to the Bundestag (lower and principal chamber of the Parliament), the chancellor cannot be removed from office during a 4-year term unless the Bundestag has agreed on a successor. The President is elected every 5 years on May 23 by the Federal Assembly, a body convoked only for this purpose, comprising the entire Bundestag (federal legislative lower house) and an equal number of state delegates. In the 1999 election, Johannes Rau of the Social Democratic Party was elected.

The Bundestag, also elected for a 4-year term, consists of at least twice the number of electoral districts--328 in
1998, being reduced to 299--in the country. (More deputies may be admitted when parties' directly elected seats
exceed their proportional representation.) Elections for an all-German Bundestag were first held on December 2, 1990, and again on October 16, 1994 and September 27, 1998. A total of 669 deputies were seated after the 1998 national elections. The Bundesrat (upper chamber or Federal Council) consists of 69 members who are delegates of the 16 Laender (states). The legislature has powers of exclusive jurisdiction and concurrent jurisdiction with the Laender in areas specifically enumerated by the Basic Law. The Bundestag bears the major responsibility. The necessity for the Bundesrat to concur on legislation is limited to bills treating revenue shared by federal and state governments and those imposing responsibilities on the states.

Germany has an independent federal judiciary consisting of a constitutional court, a high court of justice, and courts with jurisdiction in administrative, financial, labor, and social matters. The highest court is the Federal Constitutional Court, which ensures a uniform interpretation of constitutional provisions and protects the fundamental rights of the individual citizen as defined in the Basic Law.

PRINCIPAL OF GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

President---------------------------------------------Johannes Rau
President of the Bundestag-------------------------Wolfgang Thierse (SPD)
Chancellor---------------------------------------------Gerhard Schroeder (SPD)
Vice Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs----Joschka Fischer (Greens)
Head of the Federal Chancellery--------------------Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD)
Minister of Defense----------------------------------Rudolf Scharping (SPD
Minister of Finance-----------------------------------Hans Eichel (SPD)
Ambassador to the U.S.-----------------------------Wolfgang Ischinger
Ambassador to the UN-------------------------------Dr. Dieter Kastrup

Bundesregierung.de

Bundesregierung.de in English

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