Filed under: Föderalismus und Demokratie
Here you can download the first chapter of Prof. Sturm’s book: ,,Föderalismus in Deutschland“ (Berlin 2001).
It’s about the historical roots of the German federalism.
After the dissolution of the so-called Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation 1806, the territory of the German states (Länder) isn’t congruent with their culture and their identity anymore. Especially with the resurgent Prussia after 1866 the aspect of power became the central one. The Prussian hegemony was maintained through the Norddeutsche Bund. With the foundation of the German Kaiserreich (Deutsches Reich) 1871, the Prussian hegemony was cemented in the German constitution. The Bundesrat, which consisted of the representatives of German knights and a few deputies from the Reichsstädte (Hamburg, Frankfurt etc.), maintained the constitutional based hegemony of Prussia (it has had 17 votes!). In sum, the Kaiserreich was largely aquivalent to the Norddeutsche Bund: Prussian hegemony, but – of course – a largely independent federal structure: Staatenbund. The states were autonomous in their fiscal and financial politics, so federal capital Berlin hasn’t had the material basis to pursue a strong centralistic policy and to fulfill necessary tasks (like a central education policy with shared standards). With the Weimarer Republik 1918 (after World War 1) the Staatenbund was removed and the Prussian hegemony (largely) broken. Now a democratic central state with federal elements came into being. The central state, without democracy and with the annihilation of all federal elements, was formed by the Nazis. In 1934, the Länderparlamente (parliaments of the states) were dissoluted, the federal structure totally destroyed. After the capitulation 1945, the Western Allies wanted a federal state – but not the Soviets. With the Grundgesetz, the Federal Republic of Germany became a Bundesstaat, with a strong Bundesrat, where the representatives of the new formed states have a veto right to federal legislation. In contrast, the GDR became a unitary state. After the German unificaton 1990, the ,,historical“ states of Eastern Germany were rebuild and integrated in the new, federal state.
This is the summary, and here is the chapter (pdf): ,,Systematische und historische Grundlagen“, p. 11-29 :
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