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Germany|politics

Country name:
conventional long form: Federal Republic of Germany
conventional short form: Germany
local long form: Bundesrepublik Deutschland
local short form: Deutschland

Data code: GM

Government type: federal republic

Capital: Berlin

Administrative divisions: 16 states (Laender, singular - Land); Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bayern, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Thueringen

Independence: 18 January 1871 (German Empire unification); divided into four zones of occupation (UK, US, USSR, and later, France) in 1945 following World War II; Federal Republic of Germany (FRG or West Germany) proclaimed 23 May 1949 and included the former UK, US, and French zones; German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany) proclaimed 7 October 1949 and included the former USSR zone; unification of West Germany and East Germany took place 3 October 1990; all four powers formally relinquished rights 15 March 1991

National holiday: German Unity Day (Day of Unity), 3 October (1990)

Constitution: 23 May 1949, known as Basic Law; became constitution of the united German people 3 October 1990

Legal system: civil law system with indigenous concepts; judicial review of legislative acts in the Federal Constitutional Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Johannes RAU (since 1 July 1999)
head of government: Chancellor Gerhard SCHROEDER (since 27 October 1998)
cabinet: Cabinet or Bundeskanzler appointed by the president on the recommendation of the chancellor
elections: president elected for a five-year term by a Federal Convention including all members of the Federal Assembly and an equal number of delegates elected by the Land Parliaments; election last held 23 May 1999 (next to be held 23 May 2004); chancellor elected by an absolute majority of the Federal Assembly for a four-year term; election last held 27 September 1998 (next to be held in the fall of 2002)
election results: Johannes RAU elected president; percent of Federal Convention vote - 57.6%; Gerhard SCHROEDER elected chancellor; percent of Federal Assembly - 52.7%

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Parlament consists of the Federal Assembly or Bundestag (656 seats usually, but 669 for the 1998 term; elected by popular vote under a system combining direct and proportional representation; a party must win 5% of the national vote or three direct mandates to gain representation; members serve four-year terms) and the Federal Council or Bundesrat (69 votes; state governments are directly represented by votes; each has 3 to 6 votes depending on population and are required to vote as a block)
elections: Federal Assembly - last held 27 September 1998 (next to be held by the fall of 2002); note - there are no elections for the Bundesrat; composition is determined by the composition of the state-level governments; the composition of the Bundesrat has the potential to change any time one of the 16 states holds an election
election results: Federal Assembly - percent of vote by party - SPD 40.9%, Alliance '90/Greens 6.7%, CDU/CSU 35.1%, FDP 6.2%, PDS 5.1%; seats by party - SPD 298, Alliance '90/Greens 47, CDU/CSU 245, FDP 43, PDS 36; Federal Council - current composition - votes by party - SPD-led states 26, CDU-led states 28, grand coalitions 15

Judicial branch: Federal Constitutional Court or Bundesverfassungsgericht, half the judges are elected by the Bundestag and half by the Bundesrat

Political parties and leaders: Alliance '90/Greens [Fitz Kuhn and Claudia Roth]; Christian Democratic Union or CDU [Angela MERKEL]; Christian Social Union or CSU [Edmund STOIBER, chairman]; Free Democratic Party or FDP [Wolfgang GERHARDT, chairman]; Party of Democratic Socialism or PDS [Lothar BISKY, chairman]; Social Democratic Party or SPD [Gerhard SCHROEDER, chairman]

Political pressure groups and leaders: employers' organizations; expellee, refugee, trade unions, and veterans groups

International organization participation: AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, BDEAC, BIS, CBSS, CCC, CDB (non-regional), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, G- 5, G- 7, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MONUC, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNITAR, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNOMIG, UPU, WADB (nonregional), WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Juergen CHROBOG
chancery: 4645 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 298-8141
FAX: [1] (202) 298-4249
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco
consulate(s): Wellington (America Samoa)

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador John C. KORNBLUM
embassy: Neustaedtische Kirchstrasse 4-5, 10117 Berlin
mailing address: PSC 120, Box 1000, APO AE 09265
telephone: [49] (30) 238-5174
FAX: [49] (30) 238-6290
consulate(s) general: Dusseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich

Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and gold

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The Federal Republic (Bundesrepublik) consists of the aforementioned 16 federal states (Bundesländer). The federal government (Bundesregierung) has the final say on most matters, but state-specific legislation, control over the police and cultural affairs are handled by the states' governments.

The head of state is the federal president (Bundespräsident). The president has no real power (he may dismiss parliament, though, but this has never happened so far), but is a representational figure (like [[England]]'s queen). He is elected by the federal assembly (Bundesversammlung).

The head of government is the federal chancellor (Bundeskanzler). He is elected by the federal parliament (Bundestag) and is usually the candidate of the party with the most seats in parliament. He appoints a vice-chancellor (Vizekanzler), who is a member of his cabinet, usually ths foreign minister. When there is a coalition government (which is almost always the case), the vice-chancellor usually belongs to the smaller party of the coalition.

The heads of the federal states' governments are called minister presidents (Ministerpräsidenten). They form a cabinet as well, although it is usually much smaller than the federal government. The 16 minister presidents form the Bundesrat, which can be seen as a second chamber of German parliament, some fields of legislation require approval from the Bundesrat. The Bundesrat also sends representatives to the federal assembly, which elects the federal president. 

It should be noted that heads of governments may change the structure of ministries whenever and however they see fit. For example, in the middle of February 2001, the federal Ministry of Agriculture was renamed to Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture as a consequence of the [[BSE]] crisis. For that measure, competences from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Health were transferred to the new Ministry of Consumer Protection.

Since 1998 the [http://www.bundesregierung.de government] is build from a coalition of the [http://www.spd.de Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD)] and [http://www.gruene.de Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen](The Green Party / ecological oriented party). Chancellor is Gerhard Schröder (SPD), vice-chancellor is Joschka Fischer (Green). The federal president is Johannes Rau. The next election for the [http://www.bundestag.de German Parliament] will be in the autumn of 2002.