representational in nature, he can refuse to put GLOBAL his signature to legislation if he has doubts Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Elections of the Federal Parliament (Bundestag) At the invitation of Germany, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) observed the election of the Bundestag on 22 September 2013. In their report, the OSCE experts in particular address the new electoral law which was applied for the first time in the election, and which ensures that the distribution of seats in the Bundestag is more just. → osce.org about it complying with the constitution. Previous incumbents have exerted the greatest influence through public speeches, which receive great attention. The Federal Presidents refrain from becoming involved in party politics, but do tackle current issues and from time to time urge the government, parliament, and the population to take action. Issues that Joachim Gauck, who refers to himself as the people’s president, frequently addresses are human rights questions, Germany’s responsibility for its actions, and dangers for democracy. The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe: guardian of the Basic Law The Federal Constitutional Court in Karls- areas of jurisdiction, and can declare laws to ruhe, which the population holds in very high be incompatible with the Basic Law. Any citi- esteem, exerts great influence. It is regarded zen can appeal to the Constitutional Court if as “the guardian of the Basic Law” and he is of the opinion that a law violates his ba- through its important decisions provides a sic rights. The Federal Constitutional Court binding interpretation of the constitutional recently gained great importance through text. In two panels it passes judgement on dis- decisions relating to the assigning of Bundes- putes between constitutional bodies about tag rights to the European Union. 1969 1989/90 1999 Willy Brandt is the first Chancellor not to be a member of the CDU party. The Ostpolitik of the coalition government made up of the SPD and FDP creates a framework for the reconciliation of Germany with its eastern neighbours. In East Germany, peaceful protests lead to the regime being toppled. On 9 November the border with the West is opened. After the first free elections on 18 March, East Germany accedes to the Federal Republic on 3 October 1990. The Bundestag and the Federal Government are relocated to Berlin. The parliamentary buildings stand on both sides of the former course taken by the Wall. Bonn remains the seat of some ministries and federal authorities.