How the German Government Works

How the German Government Works

This is Germany, it’s a country in Central
Europe that’s about the size of the US state of Montana or slightly smaller than Japan. If you’re still having any trouble finding
it, it’s right next to Słubice, Poland. Germany’s federal government meets in the
capital and largest city of Berlin, so aside from tourists taking selfies at Checkpoint
Charlie and people ordering döner kebabs, what exactly goes on here in Berlin? So yeah, this is Germany, also known as the
Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland), Germany’s government is best
described as a federal, parliamentary, representative democratic republic. For those of you who aren’t fluent in political-scientist-ese,
those terms mean that Germany’s government is a federation of different states under
a non-monarchical government, which has different people as the head of state and head of government
(I’ll explain the difference with that later), and that there’s a layer of politicians
between the voters and the legislation. Germany is also divided into 16 states, whose
German names in alphabetical order of their English names are Baden-Württemberg, Bayern
(Bavaria), Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen (Hesse), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Mecklenburg-Western
Pomerania), Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia),
Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate), Saarland, Sachsen (Saxony), Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt),
Schleswig-Holstein, and Thüringen (Thuringia). Some of these states might have familiar names
from European history (be it from various treaties or dogs) as many of them stem from
the kingdoms that once ruled these lands, although now these states manage local affairs
that the federal government can’t (and probably shouldn’t) be bothered with. These include things like schools, law enforcement,
healthcare, und so weiter. States are often further divided into Regierungsbezirke
(governmental districts) and Kreise (districts) of various types, all responsible for various
tasks even more local than what the state can provide for. Now, this is a video about how the German
national government works, so if you’re more interested in how local government works
in Germany, I would highly recommend this video from Rewboss. Okay, back to the federal government, just
how does that work? Well first, there are two major legislative
bodies, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. The Bundestag meets in the famous Reichstag
building and is the German parliament, while the Bundesrat meets in the Preußisches Herrenhaus
(Prussian House of Lords) and represents the state governments. If you already know a bit about the US government,
think of the Bundestag like the House of Representatives, and the Bundesrat as more like the Senate. The German government also essentially has
two leaders, the President and the Chancellor. The President is the head of state, which
means he (currently Frank-Walter Steinmeier) presides over representational matters and
doesn’t have as many powers despite technically being the most important person in the German
government, they really just preside over legislation and make sure nothing goes wrong. The second most is the President of the Bundestag
(Bundestagspräsident, currently Wolfgang Schäuble) who is basically in charge of managing
the Bundestag and making sure everything is in order, and is basically the German equivalent
of a speaker. The Chancellor however (Bundeskanzlerin, currently
the world-famous Angela Merkel) is the head of government, which means she appoints the
federal cabinet and basically runs the country. Technically the Chancellor is officially only
ranked third in the German government, but there’s a reason you’ve heard of Angela
Merkel. Okay now for elections, which are a little
more complicated. Not really to vote in, but more if you’re
the person organizing the new government. Every five years a federal election is run,
and it is during this time that voters vote for new representatives in the Bundestag (obviously
they also kind of, technically vote for the Bundesrat, but just we’re going to focus
on the Bundestag for now because it’s easier and more important). The ballot they are sent essentially comes
in two parts, one for the person the voter wants representing their constituency, and
another for which party the voter wants in power. You don’t have to vote correspondingly either,
if you’re a fan of the SPD but like the FDP candidate more, you can vote both ways. This means that you’re essentially electing
two halves of the 598 seats, 299 of which go to local candidates, with the other 299
going to party representatives so that a political party can get a more proportional amount of
seats for their votes, although this does mean that the Bundestag may or may not go
over the seat number of 598, and so additional overhang seats are often also given to balance
this out. Overhang seats, and their cousins levelling
seats, however are an oh-so complicated situation that’s probably best left for another time. Just know that they’re additional seats
given depending on how the vote goes for a particular party. There are more than two main political parties
in Germany, in fact there are currently six parties with seats in the Bundestag, which
in decreasing order of said seats are the CDU/CSU (technically two parties in a kind
of union), the SPD, AfD, FDP, the Left, and the Greens. These aren’t exactly fringe parties either,
especially since a party needs at least 5% of the popular vote to get a seat in government. This means that a singular party rarely gets
a majority in government, and so they often need to pair up with another party to get
legislation passed. This is something called a coalition, and
the current government coalition is made up of the CDU/CSU and the SPD, with the other
four parties forming what is known as the opposition, although there’s of course a
lot of drama going on with this, so we shouldn’t go too deep into this right now as this will
almost certainly change fast enough to make this video outdated in a few months. So to wrap it all up, here’s a diagram of
the German government. It is a little bit confusing at first, but
so are most government diagrams to the unfamiliar observer. Okay, so let’s start with the normal German
voter, who is a German citizen over the age of 18 who has lived at least 3 straight months
in Germany in the last 25 years up to the election (which only applies if you’ve been
living outside of Germany). So in this diagram, yellow boxes represent
the legislative branch, blue boxes the executive branch, and gray boxes the judicial branch. Green arrows mean that one body elects and/or
appoints another, blue arrows that one body sends members to another, red arrows that
one formally appoints and/or has veto power over another, and Three Arrows is a German
YouTube channel that’s completely unrelated to this. So starting with the normal voter, they elect
their state legislature and the federal diet. The state legislature in turn appoints the
state constitutional court, the Minister-President, and the appointed members of the Federal Convention. The Minister-President appoints the State
Cabinet, and those two send members to the Federal Council, which works with the Federal
Diet to appoint the Federal Constitutional Court and enact legislation. The Federal Diet meanwhile also sends members
to the Federal Convention, which elects the President. The President has veto power over the same
legislation we just breezed over, but also formally appoints the Chancellor (who the
Federal Diet also elects) and the President has veto power over the Federal Cabinet that
the Chancellor then appoints. See, that wasn’t too bad, was it? The German government is a big and powerful
player on the world stage. Germany may be the size of Montana and have
a population smaller than Vietnam, but Germany also has the fourth largest economy in the
world, which in turn makes it arguably one of the “leaders” of the European Union
as a whole… so it’s kind of important they get this whole thing right! Thank you as always for watching. If you weren’t familiar with the German
government beforehand, please let me know if this video helped at all, and if you already
were please let me know how I did explaining this as a dumb American. As always, be sure to like and share this
video, check out the merch store on, and be sure to subscribe to learn something
new every Sunday.

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100 thoughts on “How the German Government Works

  1. Some interesting facts:
    1.) Schleswig Holstein is the only state with an exeption for the 5% rule. The party of the danish minority has guarateed seats.

    2.) States have the right to reunite with another state if the population agrees in a referendum. It happened yet two times. But a seperation is prohibited. Frankonia tried the secession of Bavaria and Oldenburg from Niedersachsen.

    3.) After 378 years of seperation the allies formed again one Hesse (Hesse-Nassau + People's State Hesse). But the terretorries right of the Rhein were used to form the state Rheinland-Palatinate. The city of Mainz lost some of there quarters like Mainz-Kastel. But they still plan to reunite one day. As a consequence both don't name their streets equal. In case that they'll form again one city.

  2. You narrated all the Bundesländer except for the one I was born in and currently live in, RIP (It's fine lol, I'd probably do the same with all the U.S. states. And you explained my country pretty well!)

  3. Education being the responsibility of the states is probably the biggest flaw of the current German system of government. Back in the late 40s, they apparently didn't consider that parents with children in school are moving between states all the time. Education really should be organized at the federal level.

  4. Sitting in the Bundestag and "being in government" are different things, Die Linke hasn't been in Government on the federal level since 1990, but they still sit in the Bundestag.

  5. Nice video and good explained 👍👌.
    Little thing:
    Every FOUR years there is a federal elecction. In some states their state elections are every five years.

  6. No the president has no real veto power: He can deny to sign a bill by a resign or b ask the federal constitutional court to check it's legality.

  7. Am I German? Yes
    Do I look this video? Yes
    Do I know everything in this video? Yes
    Do I know why I am locking this? NEIN

  8. can you do a video on how dutch weed is not legal but still tourists can smoke it?

    as a dutchie i have to explain that way too often.

  9. Toll Video! Es ist sehr interessant zu die Ähnlichkeiten sehen mit der Weimar Regierung. Mehr videos über Deutschland bitte!

  10. Welcome to lower saxony, we hate everyother german state and about 99% of the bundesland hates the other people in lower saxony

  11. Every four years are we voting for a new parliament, not five.
    And our government is extremely corrupt by for example the f*ck* Car industry and Pharmacy Industry.
    The Bundestag has still not ratified the Anti-Corruption Law, like North Korea.
    Our people are always voting for the same capitalistic corrupt idiots.

  12. I like Germany's way of doing things, although I prefer the Semi-Presidential system of France. Anyways, I wish Venezuelans would adopt it with local modifications to fit that country better. This of course would be done after the current crisis is controlled, because in theory Venezuela is a federation but that hasn't been the reality since Chavez was in power or at least made even worse as I can imagine it wasn't such a federal system beforehand.

  13. Have to say, I'm officially impressed. You explained it exactly how I learned it in high school here in Germany.

  14. 6:26
    Which one is more confusing the U.S. government or the German government? (If you don't live in either of these countries I'd like to know)

  15. You forgot a Party, the blue Party which is a splinter Party of the AFD and currently holds 2 Seats in the Bundestag. Not that I would endorse anything these two Partys
    Stand for but that should still be an interesting fact.

  16. Good Video but Most parties There Work as one blockpartie like in the good old days under soviet rule. The corruption is so high that mis von der layen has screwed the Military and for her very very very Bad Job she has been elected as chief of the EU. The costs for the taxpayers are surpassing the billions. There is a very agrassive cancer like corruption sacking the People living and working in germany. I cant recommend it to anyone for now. Greetings from germany. The only country in the World where People Protest to get a New co2 tax.

  17. It sounds terribly complicated, but it works. I wish all countries of the world had the German work ethic, pride in product/workmanship. Best wishes to the German people…

  18. How the German Government Works? In my opinion as a German, not at all …
    Ok just kidding. Well for an "dumb American", this was pretty got and
    I might add your pronouciation of federal statenames was actually the best I heared so far from an American.

  19. Well I’m German and everyone who follows politics know: *It does not work*. Deutschland vernichtet sich gerade selbst durch Lobbyisten, verboten, Flüchtlings Politik. Es herrscht Angst und kaum noch jemand vertraut den Politikern..

  20. There is a 4 years term on the FEDERAL level and 4-5 years terms on state level when it comes to general elections.

  21. Great explanation, thanks 😉 first English video about this that pronounces (almost) every german word right.

    One thing I have to correct you: The Bundestagspräsident "the speaker" is not higher than the chancellor. The only Situation Schäuble is higher than Merkel is when the Bundestag "parliament" comes together

  22. Wollte ja das Video schauen, nachdem aber jetzt schon, bevor das Video überhaupt erst anfängt, der zweite Werbespot in Folge läuft, den ich auch nicht wegklicken kann, kann ich das Video halt nicht schauen… Muss ich mir merken, also nicht wieder den Kanal zu klicken.

  23. As a bilingual Californian living in Germany, I commend your Aussprache bro hahaha but yee this is prolly the simplest and most straightforward explanation I‘ve seen of the clusterfuck that is German politics

  24. That’s what I call a confusing Thumbnail: it showing the German parliament. The head of the government is literally 180° opposite to it from where the image was taken.

  25. The federal election is every 4 and not every 5 years as mentioned in the video.
    The elections in the states are every 5 years.

  26. 3:47 No, in federal elections we do NOT vote for members of the Bundesrat because the Bundesrat consists of representatives of the state governments so in the state elections we vote and with voting (if we vote for another party to run our state) we change the seats in the Bundesrat.

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