Germany Government System

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Political Science
Chrystal Chang

 Why study this case?  World’s largest exporter per capita  World’s largest economy  Current political system is relatively new  The German state is federal because sovereignty and nationhood came every late to Germany  Some people are very conservative about nationalism and advocate Eurozone integration  Later comer in both, democracy and capitalism  Demography:  Smaller than Montana or Japan  Its location has placed it at the center of European affairs for many centuries o Doesn’t really have natural barriers o Borders 9 other countries  Has found itself externally vulnerable and internally divided  Low natural resources  Homogenous for the most part (90%)  Historical development of the state:  National unity, industrialization and democratization came later than it did for its surrounding neighbors.  Development of the state proceeded industrialization which led to authoritarianism and mercantilism.  The absence of a central state (800-1806):  The empire began with the foundation of Charlemenge’s Holy Roman Empire o Had a very decentralized and weak emperor, which was surrounded by princes and a congress.  There were too many subdivisions of power (Regional princes, etc) o This all caused a lack of unison  The protestant reformation also divided the state further  The treaty of Wesphalia further weaked the HR Empire by giving local entities power.  Unification, Prussia, and the Second State (1806-1918):  Napoleon’s invasion began unification and nationalism (that would lead to Nazism)  Only did Prussia and Austria manage to ward of Napoleon, and in 1815, Prussia created a small confederation that gave semblance to the German State.  Prussia had complete control over violence, but growth was also promoted by trade, infrastructural development and education.  There was a feeling that military force and mercantilism, not liberal elections, would unify Germany.  First constitution established an authoritarian democracy o All power came from the Kaiser o It seemed like a democracy, but it really wasn’t.  The iron chancellor kept doing what he wanted with favors to other politicth entities.  By early 20 , it was a major power  Discontent from the public and the German defeat caused the Kaiser to give up his power and proclaim Germany a republic.  The breakdown of democracy (1919-1933):  They were not prepared for the emperor to leave  Weimar Republic claimed a democratic government o With unemployment pensions o Universal Health Care and Pensions o Suffrage for all adults (before US or BR)  Modeled after British Parliament  Their PR system lead to a lot of parties and in turn a lot of different short lived coalitions.  The great depression and the treaty of Versailles both kind of doomed them from having a strong central government  Fascism and the 3 rd Reich (1933-1945):  It rose because it seemed promising  Promised to return Germany to its former glory  Violated Versailles and began WW1  Foreign Occupation and the German State (1945-1990):  It was in ruins in 1945  Two germanies were established: East and West o West was by UK FR and US o East by Soviet Union  Reunification (1990- )  Meaning the incorporation of East Germany into the FRG  It has been very costly o The government has spent a lot of money trying to reunify west and east Germany o Also in building and improving East’s infrastructure o And in improving its social stuff  The constitution:  Basic Law was amended in 1990 to include east Germany and has become Germany’s constitution  5 Principles (to avoid the past) o 1. Cooperative Federalism: sharing of power between federal and state. o 2. Basic set of political, economic and social rights o 3. Head of state o 4. Power is concentrated in the chancellor, which is elected and is responsible to the legislature o 5. Independent Judiciary  Amended by 2/3rds majority in both houses  The Branches of Government:  The Head of Government and the Cabinet o Federal Chancellor is the most powerful political figure in Germany o Elected by the lower house
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