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In March , 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 , 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 With the new Constitution of , 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 water works 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  chosen by the House of Representatives , the city's legislature.
The Bundeshaus in Bonn is the former parliament building of Germany. The sessions of the German Bundestag were held there from until its move to Berlin in Today it houses the International Congress Centre Bundeshaus Bonn and in the north areas the branch office of the Bundesrat "Federal Council", upper house of the German Federal Parliament representing the Länder — the federated states. The southern areas became part of German offices for the United Nations in 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, , the German parliament has again assembled in Berlin in its original Reichstag building , which was built in 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: In , a small aircraft crashed close to the German Parliament. It was then decided to ban private air traffic over Central Berlin. Together with the Bundesrat , the Bundestag is the legislative branch of the German political system.
Although most legislation is initiated by the executive branch, the Bundestag considers the legislative function its most important responsibility, concentrating much of its energy on assessing and amending the government's legislative program. The committees see below play a prominent role in this process. Plenary sessions provide a forum for members to engage in public debate on legislative issues before them, but they tend to be well attended only when significant legislation is being considered.
The Bundestag members are the only federal officials directly elected by the public; the Bundestag in turn elects the Chancellor and, in addition, exercises oversight of the executive branch on issues of both substantive policy and routine administration. This check on executive power can be employed through binding legislation, public debates on government policy, investigations, and direct questioning of the chancellor or cabinet officials. For example, the Bundestag can conduct a question hour Fragestunde , in which a government representative responds to a previously submitted written question from a member.
Members can ask related questions during the question hour. The questions can concern anything from a major policy issue to a specific constituent's problem. Use of the question hour has increased markedly over the past forty years, with more than 20, questions being posed during the term. Understandably, the opposition parties are active in exercising the parliamentary right to scrutinize government actions. Constituent service does also take place in the form of the Petition Committee.
In , the Petition Committee received over 18, complaints from citizens and was able to negotiate a mutually satisfactory solution to more than half of them. In , as a pilot of the potential of internet petitions , a version of e-Petitioner was produced for the Bundestag. The system was formally launched on 1 September , and in the Bundestag moved to a new system based on its evaluation. The Bundestag is elected for four years, and new elections must be held between 46 and 48 months after the beginning of its electoral term.
Unless the Bundestag is dissolved prematurely, its term ends when the next Bundestag convenes, which must occur within 30 days of the election. Members serve four-year terms, with elections held every four years, or earlier in the relatively rare case that the Bundestag is dissolved prematurely by the president. The Bundestag can be dissolved by the president on the recommendation of the chancellor if the latter has lost a vote of confidence in the Bundestag, if the recommendation is made and accepted before the Bundestag acts to elect a new Chancellor.
This has happened three times: The procedures for these situations are governed by Articles 67 and 68 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany.
All candidates must be at least eighteen years old; there are no term limits. The election uses the MMP electoral system. Thus, small minority parties cannot easily enter the Bundestag and prevent the formation of stable majority governments as they could under the Weimar constitution.
The most recent election, the German federal election, , was held on 24 September Accordingly, each voter has two votes in the elections to the Bundestag.
The first vote, allowing voters to elect their local representatives to the Bundestag, decides which candidates are sent to Parliament from the constituencies. The second vote is cast for a party list; it determines the relative strengths of the parties represented in the Bundestag.
At least Members of the Bundestag are elected in this way. In addition to this, there are certain circumstances in which some candidates win what are known as overhang seats when the seats are being distributed.
If a party has gained more direct mandates in a Land than it is entitled to according to the results of the second vote, it does not forfeit these mandates because all directly elected candidates are guaranteed a seat in the Bundestag. The other parties are then compensated by getting additional seats as well, the balance seats , so proportionality is preserved.
The last Federal elections were held on Sunday, 24 September , to elect the members of the 19th Bundestag. Alternative for Germany AfD —which was previously unrepresented in the Bundestag—became the third party in the Bundestag with No party won an outright majority in any state, including Bavaria, where the CSU often wins majorities and won a majority of the vote in The most important organisational structures within the Bundestag are parliamentary groups Fraktionen ; sing.
The size of a party's Fraktion determines the extent of its representation on legislative committees, the time slots allotted for speaking, the number of committee chairs it can hold, and its representation in executive bodies of the Bundestag.
The Fraktionen, not the members, receive the bulk of government funding for legislative and administrative activities. The leadership of each Fraktion consists of a parliamentary party leader, several deputy leaders, and an executive committee.
The leadership's major responsibilities are to represent the Fraktion, enforce party discipline, and orchestrate the party's parliamentary activities. The members of each Fraktion are distributed among working groups focused on specific policy-related topics such as social policy, economics, and foreign policy. The Fraktion meets every Tuesday afternoon in the weeks in which the Bundestag is in session to consider legislation before the Bundestag and formulate the party's position on it.
This status entails some privileges which are in general less than those of a Fraktion. In the current Bundestag, there are no such groups the PDS had only two constituency MPs in parliament until and could thus not even considered a group anymore; the party—now The Left —has held full Fraktion status in the Bundestag since The Bundestag's executive bodies include the Council of Elders and the Presidium.
The council consists of the Bundestag leadership, together with the most senior representatives of each fraktion , with the number of these representatives tied to the strength of the Parliamentary groups in the chamber. The council is the coordination hub, determining the daily legislative agenda and assigning committee chairpersons based on Parliamentary group representation. The council also serves as an important forum for interparty negotiations on specific legislation and procedural issues.
The Presidium is responsible for the routine administration of the Bundestag, including its clerical and research activities. It consists of the chamber's president usually elected from the largest fraktion and vice presidents one from each fraktion.
Most of the legislative work in the Bundestag is the product of standing committees, which exist largely unchanged throughout one legislative period. The number of committees approximates the number of federal ministries, and the titles of each are roughly similar e. There are, as of the current eighteenth Bundestag, 23 standing committees.
The distribution of committee chairs and the membership of each committee reflect the relative strength of the various Parliamentary groups in the chamber. The constituencies established in and were never altered to reflect population shifts, and rural areas thus retained a vastly disproportionate share of power….
Bundesrat delegations represent the interests of the state governments and are bound to vote unanimously as instructed by their provincial governments. All legislation originates in the Bundestag; the consent of the Bundesrat is necessary only on certain matters directly affecting the interests….
The chancellor, elected by the Bundestag, headed the government; however, in response to the misuse of presidential power in the Weimar Republic, the constitution greatly reduced…. Since Prussia had 17 votes out of 43 in the Bundesrat , it could easily control the proceedings with the support of a…. Prussia was entitled to 17 of the 58 votes and held the chair of the council.
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