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Executive-Legislative Federalism in West Germany

  • Peter H. Merkl (a1)


The form of government which we call federalism can readily be illustrated with examples from history. Its institutional structure and constitutional intricacies, however, still present real difficulties of definition by logical construction and have given rise to many conflicting interpretations of the term. Kenneth C. Wheare, in one of the more recent attempts at general definition, describes the federal principle as the “coordinate division of powers” between the central and regional governments, which in their respective spheres are “mutually independent” and “coequally supreme.” Such language envisions a system in which both central and regional governments have a complete set of the three branches of government with full powers in their respective spheres of jurisdiction, and a minimum of institutional overlap or interdependence.



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1 Federal Government (3d ed., London, 1953), pp. 1–7, 13–15, 3233.

2 Brie, Siegfried, Theorie der Staatenverbindungen (Stuttgart: Enke, 1886), p. 103.

3 Meinecke, Friedrich, Weltbuergertum und Nationalstaat (3d ed., Muenchen: Oldenbourg, 1915), pp. 488498.

4 See William Anderson's book review, this Review, Vol. 40 (Oct., 1946), p. 995.

5 Froitzheim, Wilhelm, “Im Juni 1947 begann die Parlamentsarbeit,” Staatszeitung (Staatsanzeiger fuer Rheinlandpfalz), May 18, 1957, p. 13.

6 Hessen-ABC (1956), pp. 8485.

7 der Justiz, Bundesminister, Die Bundesgesetzgebung waehrend der zweiten Wahlperiode des Deutschen Bundestags 1953/1957, Beilage zum Bundesanzeiger, No. 160 (Aug. 2, 1957), p. 5.

8 Compiled from Reichsamt, Statistisches, Statistisches Jahrbuch fuer das Deutsche Reich 1930, pp. 510511; and Bundesamt, Statistisches, Statistisches Jahrbuch der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1956, p. 395.

9 It would be misleading to count the actual vetoes as a measure of the influence of the Bundesrat, since these vetoes only record its failures to utilize the levers of power at its disposal. Schaefer, Hans, Der Bundesrat (Koeln: Heymanns, 1955), pp. 7396; and Karlheinz Neunreither's article in this issue of this Review, above, p. 713.

10 The Bundesrat seldom makes use of its right to initiate bills. Schaefer, op. cit., pp. 60–65.

11 For details of this procedure of supervision, see Maunz, Theodor, Deutsches Staatsrecht (6th ed., Muenchen: Beck, 1956), p. 163.

12 Weber, Werner, Spannungen und Kraefte im westdeutschen Verfassungssystem (Stuttgart: Vorwerk, 1951), p. 93; Eschenburg, Theodor, Staat und Gesellschaft in Deutschland, (Stuttgart: Schwab, 1956), pp. 631632; and Neunreither, op. cit.

13 The proportion of the average Land budget used for personnel expenditures is far higher than that of the federal budget, which again demonstrates the greater preoccupation of the Laender governments with administrative duties.

14 Computed from Wirtschaftskunde der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, (Wiesbaden: Statistisches Bundesamt, 1955), pp. 469475; Bundesminister der Justiz, op. cit., pp. 5–6; and der Justiz, Bundesminister, Die Bundesgesetzgebung waehrend der ersten Wahlperiode des Deutschen Bundestags 1949/1953, Beilage zum Bundesanzeiger, no. 161 (Aug. 22, 1953), p. 7.

15 Laski, Harold J., The Foundations of Sovereignty (New York, 1921), pp. 1729; Studies in the Problem of Sovereignty (New Haven, 1917), pp. 268275; and Emerson, Rupert, State and Sovereignty in Modern Germany (New Haven, 1928), pp. 94114. Also Friedrich, Carl J., “Federal Constitutional Theory and Emergent Proposals,” in Macmahon, Arthur W., Federalism, Mature and Emergent (Garden City, N. Y., 1955), p. 512.

16 K. C. Wheare, op. cit., pp. 5–7, 25–26.

17 Haas, Diether, “Bundesgesetze ueber Organisation und Verfahren der Landesbehoerden,” Archiv des oeffentlichen Rechts, LXXX (1955), 81et seq.; and Kurt Held, “Der autonome Verwaltungsstil der Laender und das Bundesratsveto nach Artikel 84(1) des Grundgesetzes,” ibid., pp. 50–80. Also Laforet, Wilhelm, “Verwaltung und Ausfuehrung der Bundesgesetze,” Die Oeffentliche Verwaltung (1950), p. 221et seq.; and Pathe, Karl, “Die Ausfuehrung der Bundesgesetze,” Deutsches Verwaltungsblatt (1951), p. 681et seq.

18 There are a few cases in which the federal supervision and control goes farther than this, but they concern mostly federal subjects of jurisdiction, the administration of which had been delegated to the Laender. Apart from the collection of federal taxes by the Laender, this category is not very important.

19 Schaefer, Hans, “Bundesaufsicht und Bundeszwang,” Archiv des oeffentlichen Rechts, LXXVIII (1952/1953), 149; and Zinn, Georg August, “Die Bundesaufsicht nach dem Grundgesetz,” Die Oeffentliche Verwaltung (1950), p. 522et seq. Also Bundesverfassungsgericht, , Entscheidungen, III, 49et seq.

Executive-Legislative Federalism in West Germany

  • Peter H. Merkl (a1)


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