The political system of Germany in diagrams and tables - brief and pictorial information about the political structure of Germany
On this page of our website you will learn about the political structure of Germany: the information is presented in simple and clear terms, using diagrams, charts and tables.
§ Political system of Germany in brief
The country of Germany is a Federal Republic: it includes 16 federated states, that have political autonomy as to the domestic policies, while remaining within the political and legal borders of the state or Federation per se. Thus, the country's political system includes the federal (or state) and regional levels, each of which has their own system of legislative, executive and judicial powers. Yet, the federal law takes precedence over the law of the federated states. Read more about the state and territorial structure of Germany.
In Germany, there are 2 levels of the political system: federal and regional (the one of the federated state).
Germany is a democratic state having advanced legal and social systems. The country's Basic Law is the German Constitution, which shapes the basis and structure of the country's legal and political systems, determining the basic rights of people living in Germany; these basic rights shall not be violated by any political body or person.
Brief general information about the political system, legislative, executive and judicial authorities is available in Table 1 presented below.
Table 1. Political system and structure of Germany in brief
|Form of government||Parliamentary Republic|
|Form of state structure||Federation|
|State description||Rule of law and social welfare state|
|German economic system||Socially oriented market economy|
|Basic Law||German Constitution|
|Tiers of authority||Federal and regional (the one of the federated state)|
|Major political parties||CDU, CSU, SPD, AfD, FDP, Die Linke (the Left-Wing Party), Die Grünen (the Greens)|
|Head of state||Federal President|
|Main legislative bodies||The Bundestag (the Federal Parliament) and the Bundesrat (the Federal Council)|
|The Bundestag composition||Deputies or the Bundestag members|
|The Bundesrat composition||Members of the government of each federated state|
|Main executive body||Federal Government|
|The Government composition||Federal Chancellor and Ministers|
|Head of the government||Federal Chancellor|
|Major Judiciary||Сonstitutional Сourt and other federal courts|
|Federated states level|
|Form of government||Parliamentary Republic|
|Basic Laws||Constitutions of the federated states|
|Main legislative bodies||Landtags or the federated states parliaments|
|Main executive bodies||Federated states governments|
|Major Judiciary||Regional (federated states) courts of first instance|
§ Federal level: political structure, authorities, elements of the political system
The top level of power in Germany is that of the Federation or state. At this level, issues related to the interests of the entire state are resolved: foreign policy, defense, the country's budget, etc. The Basic Law or Constitution defines at the Federal level 5 main permanent or standing political bodies of Germany, as well as 2 bodies or assemblies convened for specific purposes. All of them are listed below.
- the Government and the Chancellor of Germany
- the Bundestag or the German Parliament
- the Bundesrat, the German Federal Council
- the President of Germany
- the Federal Assembly of Germany (interim)
- the Joint Committee of Germany (interim)
- the Сonstitutional Сourt of Germany
§ Level of the federated states, constituent entities of the Federation: political structure, authorities, elements of the political system
The form of government in each federated state of Germany is the Parliamentary Republic (in German: Parlamentarische Republik), thus, the parliament plays the leading role in the federated state policy, and the federated state government is responsible to the parliament. The major authorities in the German federated states are as follows:
- German federated states parliaments
- German federated states governments
- Сonstitutional Сourts of the German federated states
§ Democracy and elections in Germany: who elects whom
Germany is a democratic country, so the citizens of the country elect deputies to the Parliament of the Federation and those of the federated states. Deputies, being representatives of the people, exercise legislative power on their behalf, as well as elect individuals to the country's executive and judicial bodies.
The figure below demonstrates the election scheme in Germany.
Explanation of the election scheme in Germany:
- 1. The German citizens elect deputies to the Bundestag or the Parliament.
- 2. Residents of the German federated states elect deputies to the Landtags or the federated states parliaments.
- 3. Deputies of the Bundestag and the Landtags form the Federal Assembly to elect the President of the country.
- 4. The Federal Assembly elects the President.
- 5. The Bundestag elects the Federal Chancellor of Germany.
- 6. The Landtag elects the Head of the federated state Government.
- 7. The elected members of the Governments of each federated state constitute the Bundesrat or the Federal Council.
- 8. The Bundestag deputies and members of the Bundesrat elect judges of the Federal Сonstitutional Сourt.
For details about the elections in Germany see a dedicated page of our website.
- German election system
- Election of the President of Germany
- Election of the Chancellor of Germany
- Parliamentary elections in Germany
- Terms and dates of elections in Germany
- The next election in Germany
- Results of recent elections
§ Political symbols of Germany
The political symbols of Germany are as follows: flag, coat of arms and anthem; they are the symbols of national unity. The main colours of the country's national symbols are black, red and gold. Each federated state of Germany has their own flag and their own coat of arms.
The third stanza of the song called “The Song of the Germans” (in German: Das Lied der Deutschen), verses by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, music by Joseph Haydn, was adopted as the words to the national anthem of Germany.
For details about the national symbols of Germany see a dedicated page of our website:
- Flags and coats of arms of Germany
- National anthem of Germany
- National colours of Germany
- Decorations, awards and honours in Germany
- National holidays in Germany
- The eagle as the state symbol of Germany
§ Political parties in Germany
Political parties play an important role in the German politics; they largely determine the country's policies. The country's Constitution states that political parties contribute to the formation of the political will of the people and can be created freely. Both the Constitution of the country and the Political Parties Act set out the main provisions as to the structure, activities and accountability of political parties.
For details about the political parties in Germany see a dedicated page of our website:
- The role of political parties in the political system of Germany
- Political parties in the German Bundestag: composition, lineup
- List of major political parties in Germany
- Programs of political parties in Germany
§ German Federal Ministries
The Federal Chancellor nominates the Federal Ministers for their Cabinet; each Minister is the head of the Ministry responsible for solving a certain range of tasks in compliance with the Federal Chancellor's directives. In total, there are 14 Federal Ministries in Germany. The table below shows the names of state Ministries in English and German, as well as the scope of their major tasks.
Table 2. German Ministries
|Name of the Ministry||Abbreviation||Scope of functions for the Ministry|
|Ministry of Finance
|BMF||Taxes, cash benefits, pensions|
|Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community
Innern, für Bau und Heimat
|BMI||Internal security of the country, police, army, migration, integration, sport, religion, national unity|
|AA||Foreign policy, European policies|
|Ministry of Economics and Energy
Wirtschaft und Energie
|BMWi||Economics and energy, telecommunications, post office, railways|
|Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection
Justiz und Verbraucherschutz
|BMJV||Rights, legislation, consumer protection|
|Ministry for Employment and Social Affairs
Arbeit und Soziales
|BMAS||Labor law, employment, education, pensioners, people with disabilities, social security|
|Ministry of Defense
|BMVg||Army, weapons, defense of the country, support of other states during conflicts|
|Ministry of Food and Agriculture
Ernährung und Landwirtschaft
|BMEL||Food, agriculture, food safety, consumer protection|
|Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend
|BMFSFJ||Family, elderly, women, youth, charity, volunteers|
|Ministry for Health
|BMG||Doctors, hospitals, patients, treatment, rehabilitation, health insurance, nursing insurance, prevention of diseases and addictions|
|Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure
Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur
|BMVI||Transport, transportation of people, goods and data, traffic rules and road safety, roads, Internet|
|Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety
Umwelt, Naturschutz und nukleare Sicherheit
|BMU||Environmental protection, protection of citizens from radiation, climate|
|Ministry of Education and Research
Bildung und Forschung
|BMBF||Education, science, international exchange|
|Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
Wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung
|BMZ||Assistance to poor countries, contributions to development funds, cooperation and support to partner countries|
§ German domestic policy
The coalition agreement in Germany concluded between the leading political parties gives a comprehensive picture of political goals and directions in the domestic as well as in the European and foreign policies of the country.
German domestic policy
The country's domestic policy is aimed at preserving and developing Germany as an economically strong and socially fair country. The focal points of the domestic policy are reduced to the following key items:
- Families and children in the foreground;
- Strong development of the education sphere, research and information technologies;
- Good work, less workload, community involvement;
- Effective economy for future welfare;
- Financial stability. War on fraud and tax evasion;
- Further transition to renewable energy sources;
- Promotion of domestic agriculture;
- Social security and justice;
- Immigration control;
- Strengthening regions, housing construction;
- Climate protection, promoting the protection of biodiversity;
European policy of Germany
German politicians pay great attention to the development and support of the European Union. A strong and united Europe is the best guarantee for Germany regarding a better future, peace, freedom and prosperity. Europe is currently facing a number of very difficult tasks; besides, in recent years, the global balance of power in politics, economics and military operations has changed. All this requires serious transformations in Europe. The focal points regarding the European policy are as follows:
- Strengthening the European unity and cohesion at all levels;
- Unemployment control;
- Expanding investment opportunities and programs;
- Enhancing social justice;
- War on fraud and tax evasion, as well as money laundering;
- Changes in business taxation;
- Enhancing the EU cooperation in the field of security and defense policy;
- Improving the management and organization of migration processes, combating the refugees causes;
§ German foreign policy
The country's modern foreign policy is inextricably linked with ensuring peace and stability, as well as with the activities of the UN and the EU. The list offered below features the focal points regarding the German foreign policy.
- Supporting poor countries and providing humanitarian assistance;
- Contributing to the resolution and prevention of conflicts in other countries; opposing violence and terror;
- The UN support in the field of peace and security, continued participation in the Security Council activities;
- Strengthening the transatlantic partnership with the US and Canada. Honest and reliable trade relations with the USA; no protectionism;
- Continued partnership in the NATO, the OSCE and the Council of Europe;
- Partnership with African countries is one of the central challenges of today;
- Climate protection and adaptation to climate change;
- Combating the causes leading to refugees;
- Financial support for the development of the world's poorest countries;
§ Country budget of Germany
For details about the country budget of Germany see a dedicated page of our website.
§ Military-political blocs and alliances, security organizations, of which Germany is a member
Under the Constitution, in order to ensure peace, the Federal Republic of Germany may be part of a system of mutual collective security. Furthermore, the country may agree to restrict their sovereign rights in order to establish and ensure a lasting peace and order in Europe and in relations between peoples of the whole world. Thus, Germany is a member of the following alliances:
- NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) - since 1955, Germany has been a member of this military-political alliance, which includes many countries of Europe, as well as the United States.
- EU (the European Union) - in compliance with the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), the European Union has its own military capability; the European Union Member States place their soldiers at the disposal of the Union. Besides, Germany, together with France, created the FGB (Franco-German Brigade), consisting of several thousand infantry soldiers stationed in Germany; the Brigade is part of the Eurocorps formation.
- UN (the United Nations Organizations) - has an agreement with Germany to provide rapid-deployment soldiers as may be necessary.
- OSCE (the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) - Germany is a member of the OSCE, an organization for conflict prevention and resolution.
§ Useful links as to the political structure of Germany
- Bundestag - the Bundestag
- Bundesrat - the Bundesrat
- Bundespräsident - the Federal President
- Bundesregierung - the Federal Government
- Bundesverfassungsgericht - the Federal Сonstitutional Сourt
- Koalitionsvertrag 2018 - the Coalition Agreement 2018
- Parteienrecht - the Party Law
- Grundgesetz - the Basic Law, the German Constitution