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Donnerstag, 23.05.2019

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Plenary Session

State Parliament for beginners

The Federal Republic of Germany is a federation. This means – broadly speaking – that in some areas, the 16 individual states can adopt their own laws, however in other areas they are subject to the federal legislation. For example, there is one single currency, one joint Federal Armed Forces and also the citizenship law is regulated trans federal. The individual Federal States, in contrast, are responsible for such matters as education, emergency response and police. But there are also areas where the Federal Government is setting uniform frameworks, which is to be put in concrete terms by the individual states, e.g. nature conservation.

Saxony-Anhalt is one of 16 Federal States in Germany. Photo: weltkarte.com

Saxony-Anhalt is a Federal State

Saxony-Anhalt is one of 16 Federal States in Germany. In the political order of a Federal State the separation of power is reflected. The state authority is divided in plural (sub-)powers, that mutually control or confine each other as well as these (sub-)powers are executed by plural persons.

Legislative: legislative power = Federal State Parliament

Executive: executive power = Federal State Government

Judiciary: judicial power = Courts of Justice

The separation of the law is approved in Article 1 (3) and Article 20 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany (called “Grundgesetz”), as well as in Article 2 (2) and 3 of the Federal Constitution of Saxony-Anhalt.

The tasks of the Federal State Parliaments are similar to those of the German Federal Parliament, the Bundestag. For specific tasks see chapter “Plenum”. Nevertheless, in public the Federal State Parliaments stand in the shadow of the Bundestag. Many citizens only take an interest in parliamentary debates when it concerns important issues, e.g. education policy or the accommodation of asylum seekers.

The State Government

The State Government is described as the Executive, which means it is the executive power. The State Government is subject to the control by the parliament and is obliged to execute resolutions of the State Parliament. The State Government consists of a Prime Minister and the Ministers of the several resorts.

Since the 7th legislative period (April 2016), Saxony-Anhalt has nine different departments. Dr. Reiner Haseloff (CDU) who was elected at the beginning of the 7th legislative period by the Federal State Parliament is the Prime Minister and has held the office since 2011. After the state elections in March 2016 in Saxony-Anhalt a coalition of CDU, SPD and BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN form the State Government. Due to their political colours (black-red-green) this coalition is often called the “Kenya-coalition”. So far, this coalition composition is unique in Germany.

The State Constitutional Court

The residence of the State Constitutional Court is in Dessau and consists of seven judges. As a Constitutional body, the State Constitutional Court is valued equally with the Federal State Parliament and the Federal State Government. This independent court is neither a supreme court that controls other courts nor is it an authority, to which everybody can apply to. The court solely oversees the compliance with the Federal Constitution and for this reason it disposes only over the competences, as anchored in the Constitution.

The court, for example, is required to decide about conflicts regarding the realization of peoples’ initiatives, referenda and plebiscites, when either the applicant himself or a quarter of the members of parliament, or rather the Government applies for this. Cities and municipalities also have the right to apply to the State Constitutional Court, if they think their right to self-administration is violated by a federal law.

Different than in numerous other federal states, in Saxony-Anhalt residents may individually appeal only against state laws, however not against legal or administrative decisions. The State Constitutional Court consists of seven members, who are elected by the State Parliament for a period of seven years.