Germany flag Germany: Economic and Political Overview

The political framework of Germany

Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Frank-Walter Steinmeier (since 19 March 2017) - SPD
Chancellor: Olaf Scholz (since 8 December 2021) - SPD
Next Election Dates
Presidential: February 2027
Federal Parliament (Bundestag): September 2025 (at the latest)
Current Political Context
In 2021, SPD’s representative Olaf Scholz was sworn in as Germany's new chancellor with a vote of 395 out of 736 delegates, formally taking power after Angela Merkel's historic 16 years as leader. The government is currently run by the first three-party coalition formed of the Social Democrats, Greens and the Free Democrats, the so-called “traffic light coalition” (Ampelkoalition). The political activities of the coalition are marked by extensive public disputes among parties over leaked legislative projects. The Greens had to modify the draft Building Energy Act due to strong public opposition. Conversely, the FDP, which oversees the finance ministry, has faced public criticism for the stringent austerity measures it has implemented.
In response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the government has implemented major shifts in German foreign, defence, and energy policies (aimed at diversifying energy supply). Relief measures worth hundreds of billions of euros helped Scholz's coalition stave off serious social unrest. Similarly, the government approved an extra budget for military expenses after Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a Zeitenwende (epochal change) in German defence and security policy.
In October 2023, Bavaria and Hesse elected new parliaments, with the campaigns being dominated by migration and climate change. All three parties of the ruling coalition lost votes, whereas the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) gained momentum, obtaining more than 14% in Bavaria and 18% in Hesse, marking their highest result ever in a western German state election.
Main Political Parties
In Germany, parties require at least 5% of the national vote in order to secure representation in the Bundestag. Although based on a multi-party system, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) have historically dominated the political arena. The major parties include:

- Social Democratic Party (SPD): Centre-left, Social Democrats. It is the party that obtained the most seats in the latest elections with 28% of the votes
- Christian Democratic Union (CDU): Conservative, Christian Democratic. It obtained 26.8% of the votes in the latest elections
- Bündnis90/die Gruenen: Left, green, social-liberism
- Free Democratic Party (FDP): Liberal, centre-right
- Alternative for Germany (AfD): Far-right
- Christian-Social Union (CSU): Conservative, Christian Democratic; considered the ‘sister’ of CDU and based in Bayern
- Left Party (Die-Linke): Left-wing

Germany's current leading political coalition is called "the traffic light coalition", also known as the Ampel coalition. It is a three-party coalition composed of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Alliance 90/The Greens, and the Free Democratic Party (FDP).

Executive Power
The Head of Government is the Chancellor, and is elected by absolute majority in the Federal Assembly for a four year term. The Chancellor holds the executive power, which includes implementing the law and managing the everyday business of the country. The Federal Ministers (Council of Ministers) are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Chancellor.

The Head of State is the President, elected for a five year term by the Federal Convention (which includes the members of the Federal Assembly and an equal number of delegates elected by the provincial legislatures). The role of the President is largely ceremonial.

Legislative Power
The legislative power in Germany is bicameral. The parliament consists of two chambers: the Bundestag (the lower house), currently 736 seats, whose members are elected by universal suffrage combining proportional and direct representation, for a four-year term. The second chamber is the Bundesrat (upper chamber), which has 69 statutory seats, and the members are the delegates of the 16 Länder (regions) of the country. There are no elections for the Bundesrat, and the term of its members is for four years. Its composition is determined by that of the regional governments. The government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of parliament, which is generally expressed by a vote of confidence. The Chancellor can not dissolve the Parliament directly, but he/she can recommend the dissolution to the President in the event of a vote of no confidence in the Bundestag. Legislative power belongs to both the government and parliament. German citizens enjoy considerable political rights.

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


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Latest Update: June 2024