Constitutional law at a glance –

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Summary Constitutional law


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Constitutional law, a part of public law deals with basic rights that fundamentally determine the relationship of the individual and the state. Furthermore, with the state organization law. This regulates the organization and structure of the state and its organs.

A state (from latin "status" - condition) is a political unit of humans (state people), who live in a certain area (national territory) under a highest rule (government authority).

The Basic Law as the constitution is the base of all other national laws, and contains in Articles 1 to 19 the basic rights and from Article 20 the state organization law.

Basic rights are constitutionally guaranteed individual rights, which serve as defensive rights against the omnipotence of the state. Article 1 I, "Human dignity shall be inviolable" is the basis of the values of the Basic Law. This establishes that the state must treat each person as an individual and not as a mere object. The basic rights which are divided into freedom and equality rights, special and general rights, and civil and human rights can not be limitless. They need to be restricted by constitution-direct barriers, law reservation barriers and constitution-immanent barriers. The fundamental message of a basic right, its essential content must never be touched. When basic rights are violated, the Constitutional Court can be appealed.

Article 20 provides the constitutional principles of democracy, republic, welfare state, constitutional state and federal state, unalterable because of the eternity clause in Article 79 III.

From Article 38 there are regulations on the various supreme federal organs of legislation, executive and jurisdiction.

The first is the parliament, the Bundestag. Its main functions are legislation and scrutiny of other federal organs. The parliament consists of at least 598 members. These are elected by the people during the federal election, a personalized list election. Each voter has two votes. The conversion of votes into seats is based on the Webster's method. The number of members of parliament may be increased by overhang mandates. The Members of the Bundestag are not bound by instructions (free mandat) and enjoy according to Article 46 immunity (protection from prosecution) and indemnity (freedom of speech and vote).

Through the Bundesrat, the 16 states are participating in the federal legislation. The individual states have 3 to 6 votes in the Bundesrat, depending on their population. The Bundesrat members are bound by instructions from their respective State Government (imperative mandate). The votes of each country can only be made uniform.

The Federal President is the head of state. He is elected by the Federal Convention for 5 years. An reelection is permissible only once. The Federal Convention consists of all members of the Bundestag and an equal number of members elected by the parliaments of the states. The Federal President has formally the highest office, in fact his political power is very limited. Mainly, he represents the state.

In contrast, the federal government, consisting of the chancellor as leader and the ministers, has real huge political power as a political impetus. The Chancellor is elected by the Bundestag and can be re-voted only by a vote of no confidence. At the individual ministers, the Bundestag has no direct access.

The Constitutional Court interprets the Constitution and examine the compatibility of other legislation with the constitution. Moreover it decides disputes between the other highest federal organs (organ dispute).

The internal structure of the state is largely determined by law. The legislation of the federation (Article 76 ff) begins with the legislative initiative. The Federal Government, the Bundesrat and a group of 5% of the Members of Parliament may introduce a bill to the Bundestag. This will be discussed in three readings in parliament plenary and the committees of the Bundestag. Then it is put to a vote. A passed law is sent to the Bundesrat. The further procedure depends on whether it is a bill requiring consent or a objection bill. A objection bill must be brought before the Mediation Committee, if the Bundesrat intends to appeal. If the Mediation Committee find a compromise, and it was approved by the Bundestag and the Bundesrat continues to reject, an appeal by the Bundesrat may be overruled by the Bundestag by the same majority with which it was inlaid. Bills requiring consent, laws for which a consent is specifically required, for example laws which change the Basic Law (Article 79 II), failed in the absence of consent. A law, that was adopted by the Bundestag and the Bundesrat, is signed by the Federal President after countersignature by the Federal Government and promulgated in the Federal Gazette.

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