German Bundesrat

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The German Bundesrat (commonly referred to as Bundesrat) is part of the parliament of Germany.

The cabinets of the 16 states of Germany appoint the delegations that represent them in the Bundesrat. They can remove them at any time. Normally, a state delegation is headed by the head of government. The delegation is made up of members of the state government.[1]

Thirteen of the states of Germany (in German: Bundesländer) have a Minister-Präsident (Prime Minister), the other 3 are city-states which have a Mayor. These prime ministers or mayors each act as chairman of the Bundesrat for one year at a time.

Germany does not have a vice president. Instead if the Bundespräsident (Federal President) cannot do his job the President of the Bundesrat can act in his place if necessary.

The old Prussian House of Lords building

Building[change | change source]

Although it is a part of the German Parliament, the Bundesrat does not meet in the same building as the Bundestag. Instead new offices and a modern meeting chamber were built inside the old Prussian House of Lords building.

Number of members[change | change source]

There are 69 members of the Bundesrat. How many delegates a land (state) has depends on its population. The smallest state, Bremen, has three members. North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous (has the most people) land. It sends six members to the Bundesrat.

The Bundestag decides most things by absolute majority (at least half of the number of members). That is 35 votes. Some important decisions need two-thirds of all of the possible votes. That is 46 votes.

Each land votes as a block. This means that Berlin, for example, can only cast four yes votes or four no votes. Its delegates cannot choose to vote in different ways. If a land decided to send only one person to the Bundesrat, that person would still have all of the land's votes. Usually the Minister President casts all of his land's votes, even if the other members are there.

If a land has a coalition government (that is, a government of two or more political parties) then all parties must agree how to vote in the Bundesrat. In 2002 Brandenburg did not agree how to vote about the Immigration bill. The Federal Constitutional Court said that the bill was not law because Brandenburg's vote could not be included in the total. This meant that the bill did not get a majority in the Bundesrat.

States[change | change source]

Situation as of July 2017.
The Minister-President's party is the biggest party of a state's government, and often also the biggest party in a state's parliament.[2]
All of the votes of a state must be cast as a block. If the parties in a coalition do not agree how to vote then the Bundesrat can ignore that state's vote.

Federal state Inhabitants
in millions [3]
Minister-President Party Votes in
Bundesrat
Party in
government
CDU / CSU
Party in
government
FDP
Party in
government
Greens
Party in
government
Linke
Party in
government
SPD
 Baden-Württemberg 10.63 Winfried Kretschmann Greens 6 CDU Greens
 Bavaria 12.60 Horst Seehofer CSU 6 CSU
 Berlin 3.42 Michael Müller SPD 4 Greens Linke SPD
 Brandenburg 2.45 Dietmar Woidke SPD 4 Linke SPD
 Bremen 0.66 Carsten Sieling SPD 3 Greens SPD
 Hamburg 1.75 Olaf Scholz SPD 3 Greens SPD
 Hesse 6.05 Volker Bouffier CDU 5 CDU Greens
 Lower Saxony 7.79 Stephan Weil SPD 6 Greens SPD
 Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania 1.60 Manuela Schwesig SPD 3 CDU SPD
 North Rhine-Westphalia 17.57 Armin Laschet CDU 6 CDU FDP
 Rhineland-Palatinate 3.99 Malu Dreyer SPD 4 FDP Greens SPD
 Saarland 0.99 Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer CDU 3 CDU SPD
 Saxony 4.05 Stanislaw Tillich CDU 4 CDU SPD
 Saxony-Anhalt 2.24 Reiner Haseloff CDU 4 CDU Greens SPD
 Schleswig-Holstein 2.82 Daniel Günther CDU 4 CDU FDP Greens
 Thuringia 2.16 Bodo Ramelow Linke 4 Greens Linke SPD

Political profile of the German Bundesrat as of July 2017:

Political profile
of State governments
Seats
CDU-FDP 6
CDU-FDP-Greens 4
CDU-Greens 11
CDU-Greens-SPD 4
CDU-SPD 10
CSU 6
FDP-Greens-SPD 4
Greens-Linke-SPD 8
Greens-SPD 12
Linke-SPD 4
Total 69

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Grundgesetz Article 51
  2. As of July 2017, exceptions can be found in Lower Saxony and Thuringia.
  3. 31 December 2013.

Other websites[change | change source]