Bundestag

German Bundestag
German Federal Diet

Deutscher Bundestag
19th Bundestag
Coat of arms or logo
History
Established1949
Preceded byReichstag 1933–1945
Volkskammer (East Germany) 1949–1990
Leadership
Wolfgang Schäuble, CDU
since 24 October 2017
Thomas Oppermann, SPD
since 24 October 2017
Hans-Peter Friedrich, CSU
since 24 October 2017
Vacant, AfD
Wolfgang Kubicki, FDP
since 24 October 2017
Petra Pau, The Left
since 7 April 2006
Claudia Roth, Alliance 90/The Greens
since 22 October 2013
Structure
Seats709
[1][2] Bundestag012019.jpg
Political groups
Government (398)
  •      Union (246)
    •      CDU (200)
    •      CSU (46)
  •      SPD (152)

Opposition (311)

Elections
Mixed-member proportional representation (MMP)
Last election
24 September 2017
Next election
Next
Meeting place
Reichstag Plenarsaal des Bundestags.jpg
Reichstag building
Mitte, Berlin, bundestag.de
Coat of arms of Germany.svg
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Southeaster corner of Bundestag.
Southeastern corner of Bundestag.

The Bundestag (German pronunciation: [ˈbʊndəstaːk], ‘Federal Diet’) is the German federal parliament. It can be compared to the chamber of deputies along the lines of the United States House of Representatives or the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.

Through the Bundesrat, the individual states of Germany participate in legislation similar to a second house in a bicameral parliament. It must be mentioned, however, that according to the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany[3] (Grundgesetz, Constitution), these two chambers form constitutional bodies principally separate from each other, so to say not forming the German parliament. But they work closely together in most aspects of lawmaking on the federal level.

The Bundestag was established by article III of the 'Grundgesetz' in 1949 as one of the legislative bodies of Germany and thus the historical successor to the earlier Reichstag.

Since 1999 it has met in the Reichstag Building in Berlin. Wolfgang Schäuble is the current President of the Bundestag. Members of the Bundestag (Mitglieder des Bundestages) are usually elected every four years by all adult German citizens in a mixed system of constituency voting and list voting. The constitutional minimum number of seats is 598; with overhang and leveling seats there are currently 709 seats. The Election Day can be called earlier than four years after the last if the Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzler) loses a vote of confidence and asks the Federal President (Bundespräsident) to dissolve the Bundestag in order to hold new general elections.

In the 19th century, the name Bundestag was the unofficial designation for the assembly of the sovereigns and mayors of the Monarchies and Free Cities which formed the German Confederation (1815–1866). Its seat was in the Free City of Frankfurt on the Main.

History

With the dissolution of the German Confederation in 1866 and the founding of the German Empire (Deutsches Reich) in 1871, the Reichstag was established as the German parliament in Berlin, which was the capital of the then Kingdom of Prussia (the largest and most influential state in both the Confederation and the empire). Two decades later, the current parliament building was erected. The Reichstag delegates were elected by direct and equal male suffrage (and not the three-class electoral system prevailing in Prussia until 1918). The Reichstag did not participate in the appointment of the Chancellor until the parliamentary reforms of October 1918. After the Revolution of November 1918 and the establishment of the Weimar Constitution, women were given the right to vote for (and serve in) the Reichstag, and the parliament could use the no-confidence vote to force the chancellor or any cabinet member to resign. In March 1933, one month after the Reichstag fire, the then President of the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, a retired war hero, gave Adolf Hitler ultimate power through the Decree for the Protection of People and State and the Enabling Act of 1933, although Hitler remained at the post of Federal Government Chancellor (though he called himself the Führer). After this, the Reichstag met only rarely, usually at the Krolloper (Kroll Opera House) to unanimously rubber-stamp the decisions of the government. It last convened on 26 April 1942.

With the new Constitution of 1949, the Bundestag was established as the new West German parliament. Because West Berlin was not officially under the jurisdiction of the Constitution, a legacy of the Cold War, the Bundestag met in Bonn in several different buildings, including (provisionally) a former waterworks facility. In addition, owing to the city's legal status, citizens of West Berlin were unable to vote in elections to the Bundestag, and were instead represented by 22 non-voting delegates[4] chosen by the House of Representatives, the city's legislature.[5]

The Bundeshaus in Bonn is the former parliament building of Germany. The sessions of the German Bundestag were held there from 1949 until its move to Berlin in 1999. Today it houses the International Congress Centre Bundeshaus Bonn and in the northern areas the branch office of the Bundesrat ("Federal Council"), which represents the Länder – the federated states). The southern areas became part of German offices for the United Nations in 2008.

The former Reichstag building housed a history exhibition (Fragen an die deutsche Geschichte) and served occasionally as a conference center. The Reichstag building was also occasionally used as a venue for sittings of the Bundestag and its committees and the Bundesversammlung (Federal Assembly), the body which elects the German Federal President. However, the Soviets harshly protested against the use of the Reichstag building by institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany and tried to disturb the sittings by flying supersonic jets close to the building.

Since April 19, 1999, the German parliament has again assembled in Berlin in its original Reichstag building, which was built in 1888 based on the plans of German architect Paul Wallot and underwent a significant renovation under the lead of British architect Lord Norman Foster. Parliamentary committees and subcommittees, public hearings and parliamentary group meetings take place in three auxiliary buildings, which surround the Reichstag building: the Jakob-Kaiser-Haus, Paul-Löbe-Haus and Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus.

In 2005, a small aircraft crashed close to the German Parliament. It was then decided to ban private air traffic over Central Berlin.