28 | 29 THE STATE & POLITICS decrees require the approval of the Bun- Greens, of the CDU and Alliance 90/The desrat. Since 2011 and 2014 the two smallest Greens, of SPD and The Left party and one parties represented in the Bundestag, Alli- coalition of The Left party, SPD, and Alliance ance 90/The Greens and The Left party, have 90/The Greens. provided the Prime Minister in one federal state each (Baden-Wurttemberg and Thur- The Federal President is the most senior ingia respectively). political person in the country Because there is no uniform election date In terms of protocol the Federal President for the federal state parliaments and the le- holds the highest office. He is elected not by gislature periods vary, parallel to the legisla- the people, but by a Federal Assembly con- tive term in the Bundestag the balance of vened specially for the purpose. Half of it is power in the Bundesrat can change several made up of the members of the Bundestag, times. With the current constellation of the the other half of members elected by the fed- chamber of federal states, the Federal Gov- eral state parliaments in relation to the dis- ernment has no safe majority in the Bun- tribution of seats there. The Federal Presi- desrat. There are no longer any distinct dent holds office for five years and may be blocks demonstrating uniform voting be- re-elected once. Joachim Gauck has been haviour, as there is more diversity with re- Federal President since 2 012. He is not a gard to coalitions in the 16 federal states member of any political party and was a than ever before in the Federal Republic. On- Protestant pastor in the former East Ger- ly in Bavaria can a single party, the CSU, rule many. During the 1989-1990 peaceful revo- without a coalition partner. Otherwise, in lution he was an active member of the civil addition to federal state governments made rights movement. Joachim Gauck is the 11th up of the CDU and SPD parties there are also Federal President since 1949. Although the combinations of SPD and Alliance 90/The Federal President’s duties are primarily MILESTONES 1949 1953 1961 On 23 May the Parliamentary Council, which is made up of representatives of the states in the Western Occupation Zones, rresolves the Basic Law in Bonn. The first Bundestag is elected on 14 August. On 17 June 1953 around one million people take to the streets in East Berlin and East Germany in protest at the political and economic conditions. The uprising is quashed by a massive military operation. In Berlin, the East German leadership seals off the crossings from east to west: with a wall and barbed wire. Anyone henceforth seen trying to escape is shot. The unity of Germany as a state seems unattainable for the foreseeable future.