26 | 27 THE STATE & POLITICS TOPIC FEDERAL STATE Germany is a parliamentary and federal dem- ment that decide which persons will head ocracy. The German Bundestag, the con- the ministries they were allocated in the co- stitutional body most present in the public alition negotiations. If a coalition collapses, eye, is directly elected by citizens eligible to the Chancellor can also fall prior to the end vote every four years. The most important of the electoral term, as the Federal Govern- tasks of the Bundestag are legislation and ment has the right to vote the head of gov- to oversee the government’s work. The Bun- ernment out of office at any time. In such destag elects the Federal Chancellor for the cases parliament must, however, name a suc- legislative period by secret ballot. Within cessor at the same time in what is known as a the Federal Government the Chancellor has “constructive vote of no confidence”. This the authority to lay down guidelines, in other means that there can be no period of time words determines binding broad policy without an elected government in office. lines. The Federal Chancellor appoints the federal ministers, and from among them a Coalition governments are Deputy Chancellor. In actual fact, however, the rule in Germany it is the parties that make up the governThe system of personalised proportional representation is decisive with regard to the character of the parliament. This way, LIST smaller parties are also represented in the Bundestag in proportion to their election ∙ Largest federal state: North RhineWestphalia (17.6 million inhabitants) results. For this reason, with one exception, the Federal Government has always been formed through an alliance of several par- ∙ Highest individual federal ministry budget: Labour and Social Affairs (122 billion euros) ∙ Largest Bundestag committee: Economic Affairs and Energy (46 members) ties that had competed against each other in the election; since the first Bundestag election in 1949 there have been 23 coalition governments. To avoid fragmentation in parliament and make forming a government easier, parties must poll at least five ∙ Highest turnout: 1972 election to the Bundestag (91.1 percent) ∙ Largest parl. party: CDU/CSU (310 MPs) per cent of the votes cast (or three direct mandates) in order to be represented in the Bundestag (this rule is known as the five percent hurdle).