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The Republic of Germany and the German political system after World War II

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  1. Consensual versus majoritarian democracy
  2. The type of democracy in modern Germany

Our conception of the Federal Republic of Germany is very different from what it was only 15 years ago. Throughout much of its history, Germany was under the leadership of dictators and was never very comfortable with democracy. Germany's first experience with democracy occurred from 1918-1933 during the Weimar Republic. This economically deprived period of time was extremely unstable and gave the German people a negative perspective regarding democratic principles. After the fall of the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich was created and led by Adolf Hitler. Hitler's fascist and oppressive regime, which was known as the Nazi party, removed all signs of democracy and replaced that system with its polar opposite.

[...] This new democratic regime developed quickly both economically and politically while East Germany lagged slowly behind. In 1990, after the destruction of the Berlin Wall, both Germany's were united and West Germany tried quickly to establish democracy in the east. Because of the long separation, East Germany had changed in many ways and it was long before East Germany was able to settle with the new democratic principles being introduced. After 1990, the entire Germany became fully democratic and was renamed The Federal Republic of Germany. [...]

[...] Many people tend to think that all democracies are majoritarian, but the truth of the matter is that most government are somewhere in between these two extremes. There is no government in the world that is purely majoritarian because countries have realized the political problems that would result from such distribution of power. In explaining the majoritarian government, Lijphart first explains the problems with majority rule. He mentions some of the contradictions in this form of government, such as restraints on majorities. If the majority is in charge, who can possibly step in and restrain them from their course of action? [...]

[...] Of any politician serving in the German government, the Chancellor is the most difficult to fire (Mahler 240). Some refer to this sort of system as a ?Chancellor Democracy.? The Bundestag, which is responsible for choosing a chancellor, is part of the system of parliament. Once the decision to elect a chancellor is made, it is very difficult to reverse the decision and have that chancellor removed. The Bundestag, however, have elections every four years (Mahler 240). Their main responsibility is choosing the chancellor, and once their decision is made, their role in government becomes less powerful and they are often subject to the power the chancellor has over them. [...]

[...] According to Lijphart, in order for a majoritarian democracy to exist, it is necessary for two political parties to exist with one of them being the majority. If that is the case, decisions are made based on the majority. In Germany, however, there are several political groups. Since Germany has been reformed in 1949, some of the main political groups that have played important roles in government have been the Christian Democratic Union, the Christian Socialist Union, and Free Democratic Party, as well the Green Party (Maher 250). [...]

[...] The unique German political system is mostly a Consensual Democracy with some aspects of a Majoritarian Democracy. Much of the voting, legislative balancing, and the selecting of top officials is done by politicians rather than citizens and this demonstrates the indirect nature of this governmental format. The Chancellor in the German government usually has the last say in whatever the case may be, and he is even given the power to dissolve the parliament. His job is usually very secure because it takes more than just a majority of congress to have the chancellor replaced. [...]

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