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Subjects, which are mostly politically prepared in non-public counsellings of commissions and parliamentary groups, are explained, discussed and valuated once again before the eyes and the ears of the public. Here, the State Government delivers its government declarations; the delegates, as elected Members of Parliament, finally decide about e.g. the State Constitution and the state budget. The delegates pass laws, resolutions, and request the State Government in certain areas to spring into action. Normally, the delegates of the State Parliament meet once per month at a general meeting. As well at federal level as at state level this meeting is called “plenum”.

Blick von oben in den vollbesetzten Plenarsaal

Photo: Landtag/Jens Schlüter

Legislative and controlling body

In democratic countries, the State Parliament has jurisdiction over important tasks: It is both a legislative and a controlling body. The parliamentary groups, represented in the State Parliament, have the possibility of commencing their own legislative initiatives and to solicit in wide discussions for majorities. At the same time the plenum controls the works of the State Government and subordinate areas. Last but not least, the Prime Minister is elected by the delegates.

97 Delegates in the State Parliament

The plenum consists of the momentarily 97 elected representatives of the people. Together they form six parliamentary groups:

CDU (Christian Democratic Union)
AfD (Alternative for Germany)
DIE LINKE (LEFT – Socialist party)
SPD (Social Democratic Party Germany)
FDP (Free Democratic Party/Liberals)
BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN – (Environmental Party)

The delegates bear the responsibility to make the citizens’ legal matters a subject of discussion. Often themes are discussed where the plenum does not have a decision-making power, but concern the country and the people.

Main focus of the plenum’s works

  • Legislation

    The right to introduce a bill is regulated by the State Constitution. The State Government, the Parliament (parliamentary groups or eight delegates) and also the people (by people’s referendum) can make use of this right. One speaks of the right of “legislative initiative”.

    Because of Germany’s structuring in federation and in federal states, the regulations of responsibility in regard to the very different legislative areas occur on the foundation of the basic laws. While the Federation handles the main issues, each state individually handles for example the issues of schools/high schools, safety/order, as well as culture.

    Normally, bills go through two discussion sessions in the plenum, as well as through the processing in the expert committees with a relevant recommended resolution, before they are accepted or rejected by a majority of delegates.

  • The resolution of the state budget

    Most important for functioning state politics is the state budget, because here it is declared how much money can be invested for each political target. The state budget is adopted in a procedure, similar to the legislative procedure. Because of the charts and calculation acrobatics, it is also called “policy in figures”. The detailed discussions of the billions worth state budget take place in the finance committee. After its adoption, the audit committee is responsible for controlling the execution of the decided budget.

  • The election of the Prime Minister

    The election of the Prime Minister is the most important personnel decision of the State Parliament. Different than in other federal states, the head of the government in Saxony- Anhalt does not necessarily have to be a member of the parliament, however he/she will always be responsible to the parliament.

    The parliamentary groups, who have elected the Prime Minister with their votes, are called coalition Fractions. Prior to the formation of a state government, they have mostly agreed about common political goals. These goals are written-down in the coalition agreement. The head of government autonomously has the right to choose the members of his government

  • The State Government control

    The State Parliament is obliged to control the State Government. The opposition parties, those political parties/delegates, who do not participate in the government, form an important control body. The State Parliament is equipped with several control instruments to execute its control function. To the plenum's disposition are for example the debate, the question time with minor inquiries, to be answered verbally, major parliamentary questions, interposed questions and interruptions.

    It is very unique to see that parliamentary control rights are minority rights. In such a manner it is prevented, that the majority would solely decide about the “whether” and “how” something is controlled. For example, the installation of a parliamentary investigation committee does not need a majority, but only a request by a quarter of the Members of the Parliament.