Political Outline

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Political Outline

Type of State
Germany has 16 states or provinces, which have local governments and legislatures that enjoy considerable decentralisation in relation to the Federal Government.
Executive Power
The Head of Government is the Chancellor, and is elected by absolute majority in the Federal Assembly for a four year term. The Chancellor holds the executive power, which includes implementing the law and managing the everyday business of the country. The Federal Ministers (Council of Ministers) are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Chancellor.


The Head of State is the President and is elected for a five year term by the Federal Convention (which includes the members of the Federal Assembly and an equal number of delegates elected by the provincial legislatures). The role of the President is largely ceremonial.

Legislative Power
The German Parliament is bicameral: The Federal Assembly (lower house) and the Federal Council (upper house). The Federal Assembly has 613 seats and its members serve four year terms. Members are elected by universal suffrage through a combination of proportional and direct representation. In contrast, the composition of the Federal Council is determined by that of provincial governments- there are no elections. The 69 members of the Federal Council are delegates from the 16 provinces and serve four year terms. 

The Government depends directly or indirectly on the support of parliament, generally expressed by a vote of confidence. The Chancellor cannot dissolve parliament directly, but can recommend its dissolution to the President if there is a vote of no confidence within the Federal Assembly. Legislative power belongs both to the Government and the Parliament.
Main Political Parties
In Germany, parties require at least 5% of the national vote in order to secure parliamentary representation. Although based on a multi-party system, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) have historically dominated the political arena.


The major parties include: 

Christian Democratic Union (CDU): Conservative, Christian Democratic 
Christian-Social Union (CSU): Conservative, Christian Democratic; Considered the ‘sister’ of CDU and based in Bayern 
Social Democratic Party (SPD): Centre-left, Social Democrats 
Left Party: Left-wing 
Free Democratic Party (FDP): Centre-right 
Bündnis90/die Gruenen: Left, Green

Current Political Leaders:
President:  Frank-Walter Steinmeier (since 19 March 2017) - SPD 
Chancellor: Angela MERKEL (in German) (since November 2005) CDU, head of a coalition backed by the CSU and the SPD.
Next Election Dates
Chancellor: September 2017 
Presidential: February 2022

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
Same place as 2016

Source: Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2017, Reporters Without Borders

Indicator of Political Freedom

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Political Freedom:
Civil Liberties:

Map of freedom 2017 
Source: Freedom House


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Last Updates: September 2017