Our GovernmentThe German Parliament building (© dpa - Report)
Who makes the laws? Who takes care of our rights? How does our government run? Find the answers here:
We are governed by five main pillars – our constitutional bodies. These are: the two houses of parliament – Bundestag and Bundesrat – which make laws; the Federal Constitutional Court that is the highest court of law (like India’s Supreme Court); our Federal President; and the Federal Cabinet that runs the government.
Germany is a parliamentary democracy, which means that the head of government – that’s the Chancellor – and cabinet ministers take decisions on running the government, and not the head of state, or the President.
The Bundestag is the German parliament. It has representatives from parliamentary parties who are elected by the people and they select a President from among them. The Bundestag also elects the Federal Chancellor.
The Bundesrat represents the federal states and is like a second house. It is made up of representatives of the federal state governments. The number of votes each state holds is proportionate to the size of its population.
Enlarge image German Federal President Joachim Gauck (© Thomas Koehler/ photothek.net) The Federal President is the head of state of the Federal Republic of Germany. He is elected for five years and can be re-elected only once. As the head of state, he represents Germany in the world and appoints senior government officials. Only when he signs does any act become a law. He can dismiss the government and, in special cases, dissolve parliament before it completes its term of office.
The Federal Constitutional Court
The Constitutional Court acts to protect the division of powers written down in the Basic Law and the federal state. The Constitutional Court acts only when appealed to.
Fifteen Cabinet ministers and the Chancellor together make up the Federal Cabinet. The Chancellor is the ‘captain’ of the ship, while the ministers work on their own, but under the guidance of their captain.
Enlarge image German Chancellor Angela Merkel (© Thomas Koehler/photothek.net) The Chancellor is the only member of the Government to be elected. He or she is free to choose ministers for the cabinet.
Our present Chancellor is Angela Merkel. She is the first woman Chancellor of Germany and has led the government since November 2005. She regularly finishes on top of Forbe's list of the most powerful women in the world.
The government functions through 14 Federal ministries, such as the Federal Foreign Office, that represents Germany and promotes its policies around the world, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology promoting German business and trade or the Federal Ministry of Education and Research to look after high quality of education, science and research in Germany.