The Constitution of Germany: A Contextual Analysis (Constitutional Systems of the World)

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The German Basic Law – enacted in 1949 after total defeat and the experience of totalitarian barbarism – has become a model for constitutions around the world and is a prominent example of modern constitutionalism. It features five fundamental principles – democracy, rule of law/Rechtsstaat, the social state, republican government, and federalism – each expressly guaranteed and protected against constitutional amendment. As such, the German Basic Law is a prime example of a cooperative and predominantly executive federalism characterized by a high degree of unitarianism and equality of its member states. The institutional structure – featuring the principle of the separation of powers – is a parliamentary system of government in which the Chancellor and the political parties play leading roles. The Bundestag remains a powerful Parliament, while the Bundesrat and the Prime Ministers of the Länder act as an important counterweight. The Constitutional Court, as interpreter of the Constitution and possessor of a broad range of competences, occupies an especially important position, acting as arbiter between the different Federal institutions, as well as between the Federation and the Länder. In the field of fundamental rights, the Court has achieved far-reaching constitutionalization and juridification of the whole political system, while creating a strong and consistent system of individual freedom and the liberalization of society. The Constitution of Germany: A Contextual Analysis – part of the Constitutional Systems of the World series by Hart Publishing, Oxford – is an accessible and up-to-date book on the history and current state of the German constitution. It will be of interest to academics and students interested in constitutional and comparative constitutional law, as well as politics.

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