Bundesrat (Germany)

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The 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.

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.

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.

Federal state Inhabitants
in millions [2]
Minister-President Votes in
Parties in
 Baden-Württemberg 10.63 Winfried Kretschmann 6 Greens/CDU
 Bavaria 12.60 Horst Seehofer 6 CSU
 Berlin 3.42 Michael Müller 4 SPD/Linke/Greens
 Brandenburg 2.45 Dietmar Woidke 4 SPD/Linke
 Bremen 0.66 Carsten Sieling 3 SPD/Greens
 Hamburg 1.75 Olaf Scholz 3 SPD/Greens
 Hesse 6.05 Volker Bouffier 5 CDU/Greens
 Lower Saxony 7.79 Stephan Weil 6 SPD/Greens
 Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania 1.60 Erwin Sellering 3 SPD/CDU
 North Rhine-Westphalia 17.57 Hannelore Kraft 6 SPD/Greens
 Rhineland-Palatinate 3.99 Malu Dreyer 4 SPD/FDP/Greens
 Saarland 0.99 Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer 3 CDU/SPD
 Saxony 4.05 Stanislaw Tillich 4 CDU/SPD
 Saxony-Anhalt 2.24 Reiner Haseloff 4 CDU/SPD/Greens
 Schleswig-Holstein 2.82 Torsten Albig 4 SPD/Greens/SSW
 Thuringia 2.16 Bodo Ramelow 4 Linke/SPD/Greens

References[change | change source]

  1. Grundgesetz Article 51
  2. 31 December 2013.

Other websites[change | change source]