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Comparative Governments of Europe, Germany
The Bundestag is the name given to the lower house of Parliament in Germany. Its representatives are elected every four years. The method used to elect members to the Bundestag is known as mixed-member proportional representation (Conradt 28). The Bundestag comprises 598 members, and half of them are elected directly from 299 constituencies. The other half of the members are elected from the list of the parties on the basis of each land. The election to the Bundestag allows voters to carry two votes each. The first vote is used by voters to elect their local representative to Parliament, while the second one is cast for the party list and it is used to portray a partys strength in the Bundestag.
The distribution of 598 seats is usually based on the percentage gained by the parties during the second voting. The standard percentage required is usually 5%. The number of votes received during the elections determines the number of seats each party will be allocated in the Bundestag (Conradt 45). In some cases, candidates win what is called overhang seats when the seats are being distributed. This happens when the party has a more direct mandate in a land than it is entitled to according to the results of the second vote.
The results of the Bundestag elections determine to a large extent the relative strength of the parties and, therefore, options available when the government is formed. The government can only be formed by parties that separately or together with other parties have the majority of members behind them. This is the reason as to why the elections are followed by coalition negotiations between the parties.
Functions and responsibilities
The Bundestag executive bodies consist of a group of Elders and the Presidium. The presidium carries out daily duties of the Bundestag and they include clerical and research activities. The group comprises the Bundestag leadership and representatives who happen to be senior. The group is responsible for the coordination, coming up with a daily routine and issuing the committee chairpersons on the basis of representatives per party. The group also performs the important duty of carrying out negotiations between different parties on specific rules and procedures (Reyelt 22).
The Bundestag also takes place in the legislation process. It focuses more on the amendments and testing of the legislative program of the government. The committees play an important role in this process. Plenary sessions provide the members with an opportunity to take part in public debates on legislative issues before them. The group of Elders is also responsible for coming up with the dates of weekly meetings in the upcoming year before it starts. The topics to be tackled in the meetings are written just shortly before they are held. During the meetings, decisions that were made are usually discussed. The group of Elders depends on the advice it gets from the meetings to come up with decisions.
Another function of the group of Elders is to take part in the decision-making process when it comes to the internal affairs of Parliament. This is with the exception of a case where they fall under the justification of the President or Presidium. For example, if the group of Elders comes up with rough estimates for the Bundestag budget, the committee can only have their opinion after consultations with the leaders. After this, the committee can make a final decision (Reyelt 69). The Council of Elders also has the mandate to decide the number of rooms that should be allocated to parliamentary institutions and the authority of the Bundestag and lastly answer questions involving the workforce.
The Bundestag undertakes other duties which include the selection of the federal chancellor and also administrative power over the executive branch allowing them to carry out routine checks and substantive policy. There are a couple of methods that can be used by the executive power and they are subjecting the chancellor or cabinet members to questioning and public forums tackling the government policy and binding of legislation.
Powers of the Bundestag
The Bundestag is very important in the country and commands respect since it is elected by over 80 million citizens. Therefore, the deputies in this Parliament are able to execute their powers backed by the people who chose them. It is also in their capacity to approve the deployment of the military and pass pending budgets. They also have the power to select judges for the judiciary and they comprise the lager part of the Federal convection, which elects the president (Reyelt 72).
The Bundestag also includes the Committee on Foreign Affairs which has the mandate to scrutinize, monitor, and offer advice to the Federal Government and whatever actions it might take when it comes to foreign policy. It also has the power to make important treaties under international law. In the Federal Constitution, it is stated clearly that for any treaty signed under international law to be applied in Germany, there is a need for an instruction that relates to the national implementation of the law (Loewenberg 66). The Foreign Affairs committee has the task to make the necessary preparations for the decisions of the plenary. It is essential that the plenary should have a clean record of always following recommendations given to them by the Foreign Affairs Committee to date.
Conradt, David, P. The German Polity. New York: Cengage Learning. 2008. Print.
Loewenberg Gerhard. Parliament in the German Political System. New York: Cornell University
Press Publishers.1966. Print.
Reyelt, Maren. The Legislatures of the United States and Germany. A Comparison. New Jersey:
GRIN Verlag Publishers. 2002. Print.
- inauthor:"David P. Conradt" - Google Search
- inauthor:"Gerhard Loewenberg" - Google Search
- inauthor:"Maren Reyelt" - Google Search