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The Basic Law states that the formal policy guidelines issued by the chancellor Richtlinienkompetenz must be followed by the Cabinet ministers; these are legally binding directives. Ministers are expected to suggest and implement specific policies that are consistent with the chancellor's broad guidelines.

The chancellor is aided in these activities by the large staff of the Chancellor's Office Bundeskanzleramt , which supervises the actions of the ministries and formulates the government's broad policy goals. Thus, in contrast to the British system of shared cabinet responsibility, the German cabinet is formally subordinate to the Chancellor in policy making. The second principle of ministerial autonomy Ressortprinzip grants each minister the autonomy to conduct the internal workings of the department without Cabinet intervention, as long as these policies conform to the government's broad guidelines.

Ministers are responsible for supervising the department's policy planning, the preparation of legislative initiatives, and overseeing the administration of policy. These duties involve the activities of the federal government, as well as monitoring the implementation and administration of federal laws by the state bureaucracies. The third provision of Article 65 is the cabinet principle.

When conflicts arise between departments over jurisdictional or budgetary disputes, the Basic Law calls for them to be resolved by the Cabinet. The actual working of the federal government tends to be more fluid than the formal procedures spelled out by the Basic Law. There are, of course, political limitations on the formal powers of the chancellor. In a coalition government, the number and choice of ministries to be held by each party is a major issue in building the coalition.

Similarly, intraparty tensions may necessitate certain Cabinet assignments in the interest of party unity. Cabinet members also display considerable independence on policy despite the formal restrictions of the Basic Law. Ministers are normally appointed because they possess expertise or interest in a policy area. In practice, they identify more with their roles as department heads than with their roles as agents of the chancellor. Ministers become spokespersons and advocates for their departments; their political success is judged by their representation of department interests.

The Cabinet thus serves as a clearing house for the business of the federal government. Specific ministers present policy proposals originating in their departments in the hope of gaining government endorsement. In practice, the chancellor seldom relies on formal policy instructions to guide the actions of the government. The chancellor defines a government program that reflects the consensus of the Cabinet, and relies on negotiations and compromise within the Cabinet to maintain this consensus. The personal style of the chancellor has a large influence on how this process actually functions.

The first chancellor, Konrad Adenauer table 2. He was the mayor of Cologne during the Weimar Republic and had retired from politics after Hitler came to power. He rapidly rose to a position of prominence in postwar Germany as head of the Christian Democratic Union, chair of the Parliamentary Council that drafted the Basic Law, and a sort of father figure to the nation. As a simple example of his influence, the tale is often told that Bonn was chosen as the capital of the Federal Republic because it was within easy commuting distance of Adenauer's home! Adenauer liberally interpreted the formal powers of the chancellorship in his favor, and was not hesitant to exercise this authority.

Moreover, his leadership as the Federal Republic rebuilt its economy and recovered its sovereignty endowed on him a heroic image for many citizens. It is not far off to say that the Federal Republic was created according to his blueprints. Table 2. Subsequent chancellors table 2.

Neither Ludwig Erhard nor Kurt Kiesinger were strong leaders. Erhard's tenure as chancellor suffered in the shadow of Adenauer's larger-than-life image, and never commanded the same authority or respect within his party. Kiesinger was chancellor during the Grand Coalition, when political authority was divided with the vice chancellor, Willy Brandt.

Brandt brought a new sense of vision to the chancellor's office in , opening an era of far reaching domestic and foreign policy reforms. Brandt's most dramatic new policies came in foreign policy, where he personally directed a new foreign policy Ostpolitik of reconciliation with the nations of Eastern Europe and the establishment of formal ties with East Germany.

In he received the Nobel Peace prize for his actions, an achievement with special significance for a German political leader. Helmut Schmidt was another strong chancellor. He entered the government with the reputation of a man of action, someone who could deal with difficult problems. Yet, even he was forced from office by a constructive no-confidence vote in Helmut Kohl served for 16 years, and oversaw the historic unification of Germany.

But the mounting costs of unification cost Kohl his job, and GerhardSchroederr was elected chancellor in and re-elected in Schroederr similarly battled with the challenges of Germany's new post-unification situation, and lost the chancellorship in to Angela Merkel. Merkel marks a dramatic new change for Germany, an Easterner, a PhD in chemistry with modest political experience prior to , and a woman.

She has brought a more conciliatory and bargaining style to the chancellorship. During the Weimar Republic, executive authority was divided between two offices—the chancellor and the president. The office of president was intended to provide a symbol of national identity, an Ersatzkaiser , with relatively modest political influence. One of the greatest structural weakness of the Weimar constitution was the transfer of political authority to the president, through the infamous Article 48, when parliament became deadlocked.

But most executive authority was transferred to the chancellor, leaving the presidency as a largely ceremonial post. The president's official duties involve greeting visiting heads of state, attending official government functions, visiting foreign nations, and similar tasks. The federal president is removed from the competition of electoral politics. Because the president of the Weimar Republic was directly elected, this inevitably transformed the position into a partisan office as rival candidates competed for popular support.

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Furthermore, because both the president and parliament were popularly elected, both claimed to represent the national interest, even when they expressed differing views. The president of the Federal Republic is now selected by a Federal Convention Bundesversammlung composed of all Bundestag deputies and an equal number of representatives chosen by the state legislatures.

The term of office is five years, and the incumbent can only be reelected once. The norms of the office also downplay the remaining partisan aspects of the position. Even though the federal president is usually selected from among the senior leaders of the largest party in the Bundestag, he is expected to remain above partisan politics. On assuming office in he formally separated himself from the party. This reduction in the president's formal political role does not mean that an incumbent is entirely uninvolved in the political process.

The Basic Law assigns several ceremonial political functions to the president, who appoints government and military officials, signs treaties and laws, and possesses the power of pardon. In these instances, though, the president is merely carrying out the will of the government, and these actions must be countersigned by the chancellor. The president also nominates a chancellor to the Bundestag and dissolves Parliament if a government legislative proposal loses a no-confidence vote.

Yet in both instances, the Basic Law restricts the president's ability to act independently. The emergency law reforms of identified the president as a mediator in times of national crisis who can declare a state of emergency. In contrast to Weimar, however, political authority would then pass to the Parliament and not the president. A potentially more significant source of presidential power is the constitutional ambiguity over whether the president must honor requests from the government or can he refuse these requests.

The president may possess the constitutional right to veto legislation by refusing to sign it. At least a half dozen pieces of legislation have been involved in such controversies since the founding of the Federal Republic. Similarly, the president may be able to refuse the chancellor's recommendation for Cabinet appointments or even a request to dissolve the Bundestag. In , for instance, there was great public speculation about whether Chancellor Kohl's request for a dissolution of the Bundestag would be granted it was.

These constitutional questions have not been tested by past presidents, and thus the extent of these powers has not been resolved by the courts. Most analysts see these ambiguities as another safety valve built into the Basic Law's elaborate system of checks and balances. The political significance of the federal president is also derived from factors that go beyond the articles of the Basic Law. The first incumbent, Theodor Heuss, envisioned the office as serving an integrative function for the nation.

The president is someone who can stand above politics; someone who can speak frankly and morally about current issues. As a liberal who had suffered under the Third Reich, he used his office to nurture the development of democracy and humanitarianism in postwar Germany. His popular appeal and willingness to deal with the sensitive issue of Germany's past helped create a climate in which meaningful political change could occur. Heuss's performance during two terms as president set the standards by which the position is still judged.

Most later presidents have tried to meet these standards. During his tenure he demonstrated his leadership ability and his broader view of the president's political role. This was a courageous act for someone who comes from an aristocratic background and whose father worked in Hitler's foreign service. It is difficult to summarize the importance of the federal president in simple terms because of the ambiguity of the office. The formal powers of the presidency are limited, and the founders of the Federal Republic consciously sought to isolate the president from everyday political issues.

At the same time, however, the potential application of the president's latent powers makes the office an important safety value in case of extreme political crisis. Moreover, the informal role of the president is often underestimated. A central concept in German legal theory is the Rechtsstaat , a government founded on law whereby government action is restrained to its legal limits and the equality of the citizens legally guaranteed.

The rule of law was the individual's protector against the authoritarian state. This confidence in the Rechtsstaat was shattered by the events of the Third Reich. The legal protections of the Weimar Republic did little to restrain Hitler's accession to office and his abuses of power. Moreover, the judiciary was a somewhat willing accomplice in many of these actions. Since the law was supreme and the courts could not overturn legal statutes passed by the government, even if that government was the illegal Nazi state, activities that violated basic human rights were held to be legal if they followed the appropriate government statutes.

This narrow view of law focused on procedures and ignored the content of government action. Judicial reform was therefore a high priority for the authors of the Basic Law. The German courts vary from the federal structure of the rest of government. The courts are integrated into a unitary system with six major branches of the judiciary. Federal law specifies the basic structure of the judicial system, but state law regulates the administration of most courts.

The lower levels of the court system are managed by the states and only the highest appellate courts function at the federal level. The federal guidelines and federal appeal courts ensure that the laws are applied uniformly throughout the nation, while the states' administration of the courts ensures their independence from the national government.

The largest branch of the judiciary is the system of ordinary courts that are responsible for both civil and criminal cases. Over five hundred local courts Amtsgerichte hear cases dealing with minor criminal offenses and small civil suits, as well as perform many routine legal functions such as probating wills and land registry. The next level of the judiciary are the nearly one hundred district or state courts Landgerichte. Above the level of the local courts, the higher courts are split into two sections, one deals with major civil cases and the other with criminal cases.

The district courts function both as courts of appeal for cases originally tried in the local courts and as a court of first instance for major civil or criminal cases. The twenty state appellate courts Oberlandesgerichte review points of law raised on appeal from the lower courts. The Federal Court of Justice, Bundesgerichtshof , can review the procedural and legal aspects of cases referred from the lower courts.

Other branches of the judicial system deal with cases in specialized areas. The administrative court hears complaints against government agencies, such as a citizen objecting to a planned highway or government licensing activities. For instance, much of the legal struggle over the location and safety standards for nuclear power stations has occurred in the administrative courts.

The social court handles matters of social insurance, unemployment compensation, medical insurance, and similar programs. Labor-management disputes and protection of worker rights are judged by the labor court. The fiscal court is probably the least liked, it decides on disputes over personal income taxes and other fiscal matters. Like the rest of the judicial system, these specialized courts are vertically integrated into separate systems of state courts, each topped by a federal appeals court.

The major structural innovation of the judicial system is the independent Constitutional Court. This marked a break from German legal tradition because it places one law, the Basic Law, above all others; it also implies limits on the decision-making power of the Parliament and the judicial interpretation of lower court judges.


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The Constitutional Court possesses the authority to review the constitutionality of legislation, mediate disputes between levels of government, and protect the constitution and the democratic order. The court is divided into two senates; each has its own panel of eight judges, its own administrative staff, and its own chief justice. The first senate is responsible for the protection of civil liberties and judicial review of legislation. The second senate primarily deals with constitutional disputes between government agencies and the regulation of the political process.

The Basic Law limits the Constitutional Court's jurisdiction to constitutional issues; it can only hear cases involving questions of constitutional significance. By the mids over half of the articles in the Basic Law had been subjected to judicial review and hundreds of cases tested the constitutionality of federal and state legislation. Early court decisions, such as the Southwest case and Federal Television case, defined the distribution of power between the Bund and state governments.

Other cases have involved the court in major legislative debates such as Ostpolitik, abortion, and anti-terrorist policies. The court has also displayed a willingness to involve itself in the "political" conflicts which the American Supreme Court evades, such as reviewing party campaign financing legislation. The court is thus both a vital mechanism for conflict resolution within the German system and an active protector of the system.

One of the most noticeably changes in the judicial system of the Federal Republic concerns the norms of judicial action. Members of the court reject the neutral judicial role of German legal tradition. Because of the importance of the Constitutional Court, its members are selected in equal numbers by the Bundestag and Bundesrat. Justices can be removed from office only for abuse of their position.

The operation of the entire judicial system is based upon Roman law principles that are fundamentally different from the Anglo-American system of justice. The codes define legal principles in the abstract, and specific cases are measured against these standards. Because the legal codes attempt to anticipate all the issues that might confront a court, they are quite complex and lengthy. In short, the system is based on a rationalist philosophy that justice can be served by following the letter of the law.

The legal system also emphasizes society's rights and the efficient administration of justice in comparison to the individual rights of a defendant. For example, equal weight is given to the evidence of the prosecution and the defense. Similarly, the rules of evidence are not as restrictive as in American courts. In deciding a case a unanimous decision is not even required; a majority is sufficient for many types of cases. These basic legal principles affect the operation of the judicial process in several ways.

Reliance on complex legal codes means that judges must have extensive legal training. They are not simply selected from the ranks of practicing lawyers; the two careers are distinct. Law students must pass a state exam at the end of their university training, which is followed by several years of applied training in various sectors of the legal system. This apprenticeship period is followed by a second state exam to qualify the individual to practice law; upon successful completion of the exam the candidates must decide whether they want to be lawyers or enter the judiciary.

A candidate for the judiciary then faces several more years of training and examination before being accepted into the profession. The emphasis on judicial expertise also means that less reliance is placed in decision making by lay jurors as is done in Britain and the United States. In the local courts, for example, most cases are decided by a single judge. The district courts are headed by a panel of three judges assisted by several "lay judges" chosen from among the local citizens.

In the higher courts, lay judges are not even used. Furthermore, the judge or panel of judges normally votes along with the lay judges in deciding a case. Naturally, the judge's opinion can easily sway the votes of the lay public. Justice is to be rational, fair, and expeditious; presumably this goal requires the expertise that only judges possess. Because the German judicial system aims to uncover the truth within a complex web of legal codes, the judge pursues an activist role in the court. Cross examining witnesses, determining what is acceptable as evidence, and generally directing the course of the trial number among a judge's courtroom duties.

By Anglo-American standards, the inquisitorial system of German justice might seem harsh, but it is a system shared by most other Western European democracies. Furthermore, the traditional definition of the Rechtsstaat is now tempered by a greater concern for the content of the law and an awareness of a higher standard of justice. The transformation of the judicial system has been one of the great political successes of the Federal Republic. A System of Checks and Balances. The structure of the German political system is undeniably complex, and simple comparisons to other parliamentary systems are difficult to make.

There is, however, a logic to this complexity. Because of the Weimar experience, the Basic Law created a political system based on extensive checks and balances. The working guidelines sought to distribute political power among the institutions of government and to create external limits on the power of each institution. Each branch of government is granted considerable authority to exercise its prescribed functions, but there are also checks on this authority and limits on the ability of any one branch to dominate the entire government.

These principles hold the key to understanding the operation of the German political system. When one looks, for example, at the details of the federal system of government, the pattern of checks and balances is clearly evident. The structure of the Weimar system enabled Hitler to control the nation by controlling the national government. The Basic Law strengthens the power of the states as a check on the power of the federal government.

The autonomy of the state governments and the legislative importance of the Bundesrat also create competing bases of political support. One single national election cannot yield total control of the political process to the victor. The German federal government also deviates from the normal pattern of parliamentary democracy.

Both the legislative and executive branches possess extensive powers in their areas of primary responsibility. The legislative independence and oversight activities of the Bundestag and Bundesrat clearly exceed those of the British Parliament or French National Assembly. A similar concentration of executive authority is granted to the chancellor. What had been presidential powers under the Weimar Republic were transferred to the chancellor. Click on an option below to access. Log out of ReadCube.

Hartwig Pautz reports. Volume 6 , Issue 3. The full text of this article hosted at iucr. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username. Tools Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article.

Get access to the full version of this article. View access options below. A slightly less important instrument were constitutional amendments that were subsequently implemented by legislation or administrative regulations.

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We record fourteen score changes for this instrument. Framework legislation had played a minor role compared to exclusively federal, exclusively Land and concurrent legislation and had only captured parts of the policy areas analyzed here, before this type of legislation was abolished in Thus, both the growing body of federal framework laws Kilper and Lhotta , as well as the partial withdrawal from framework law making in tertiary education in the s and s were too limited to trigger a change in policy scores.

Rulings by the Federal Constitutional Court did not have an immediate effect on policy or fiscal scores, but their influence should not be underestimated. Due to a series of judgments in the early s, 9 the federal parliament could no longer legislate uncontestedly in many areas of concurrent and framework legislation and was thus forced to trade some legislative powers to reclaim its contested law-making powers as part of the Federalism Reform of Scharpf Furthermore, with two decisions in and , the Court restricted the conditionality of federal investment aid by ruling that the federal government has to respect Land investment plans and limit itself to fitting them into a coherent plan Blair and Cullen , f.

Overall, however, the Constitutional Court showed considerable self-restraint, which benefitted the more active central government. The Court did not stop legislative centralization for many decades as it refused to examine whether federal laws in concurrent legislation fulfilled the conditions for federal law making in these areas, as laid down in the so-called necessity clause Schneider , 75f. Additionally, the Court imposed little constraint on the right of the federal government to instruct Land administrations working on its behalf Kilper and Lhotta , f.

The use of international treaty powers in the context of European integration influenced the federation as virtually all policy fields were at least partially Europeanized. Both the central and the Land governments lost legislative and administrative autonomy Grotz ; Benz , 72ff. While we agree with these general findings in the literature, we trace only one scoring change directly to European integration while in other cases Europeanization effects were too small or both the central and Land governments lost autonomy simultaneously.

Horizontal joint action continues to be a key element of the federation, but was not formally imposed by the federal level. Two other score changes follow from the disproportional growth of revenues from different taxes. Compared with federations that are older and originated from a federal bargain, Germany was more centralized with regard to legislative and fiscal power in the beginning.

This confirms the theoretical expectation. With regard to change over time, the magnitude of dynamic legislative and administrative centralization in Germany has been smaller than in the older federations, based as they were on a federal bargain except for Canada. The centralization in the s and s was based on the development of Germany as a democratic industrial society with increasing economic interrelations and geographic and social mobility Schneider , 59f.

However, these socio-economic conditions only caused centralization because the political parties shared a belief that the territory to which a citizen belonged was subordinate to the functional needs of the economy and the right to uniform living conditions Lehmbruch , Thus the evidence from Germany supports the impression that modernization leads to centralization with regard to the direction of change. However, the supporting evidence is less definite regarding the form of change; in the eight policy fields expected to experience centralization, 10 which represent 38 percent of all policy fields, only eight out of twenty instances of centralization occurred 40 percent.

While pre-tertiary and tertiary education, environmental protection and criminal law experienced at least instances of temporary centralization, the federal government did not extend its power in economic regulation, civil law, media, and transport. Another initial condition that contributed to the centralization in the early decades was the need for reconstruction after the war, the fair distribution of costs involved, and the compensation of economically disadvantaged regions that bordered the GDR Jeffery , 44; Kilper and Lhotta , f.

The impact of globalization and Europeanization on the vertical distribution of power is very policy-field specific. The latter aim was amplified by the increasing economic competition in the European Single Market, yet was only marginally achieved by the Federalism Reform. In sum, the evidence from the German experience supports the hypothesis that globalization results in centralization.

However, the literature lacks studies that measure the effect of Europeanization on the distribution of power between the federal government and individual Land governments in specific policy fields. We base this assessment on the literature cited in this subsection and in the Supplemental Online Codebook.

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The political and administrative elites had deep-rooted cultural orientations that favored uniformity and central decision-making and significantly contributed to the centralizing changes since Lehmbruch , Especially since the s, however, these orientations have lost force as the nation state is no longer an undisputed reference frame, the national economic and judicial unity is challenged by European integration and the decentralization paradigm has been established in Europe Lehmbruch , f.

As an exception, Bavaria has always had a distinct regional identity, which, however, is more cultural and emotional than political and is complemented by a similarly strong national identity Oberhofer et al. Furthermore, this Bavarian identity was only mobilized to achieve decentralizing reforms by the Christian Social Union CSU governments when the Land left its agricultural past behind and became an economic frontrunner. This is, however, not due to a shift of these identifications towards the federation over time but because the initial constitutional power division was more decentralized than German citizens preferred.

The expectations of citizens towards the role of government in the economy and society have changed considerably and contributed to centralization in a few policy fields. Most noticeably, the central government extended social welfare and health care when its tax revenues increased significantly because of the economic boom in the s and s. The expansion of these policy fields continued even in the age of limited economic growth after the oil crisis in the early s.

In social welfare, a rising number of disadvantaged groups were compensated by federal laws, while in health care, the federal legislator mandated insurance programs to cover an expanding number of services. The federal parliament also took the leading role in environmental protection from the s onwards when this cause became a major concern for many Germans.

Federal law making could ensure uniform provision of health care and social benefits across Germany and prevent a race to the bottom in environmental standards. The evidence suggests that the demands of citizens for bigger government had a centralizing effect, as hypothesized. Shocks had ambiguous effects on the vertical distribution of power in Germany. The economic shock of the oil crises of and —, in combination with the structural crises in the mining, steel, and textile industries, undermined central government finances.

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The federal government initially provided additional investment funds to the regional and local governments, thereby increasing conditional grants. The shock of unification and the end of the Cold War did not alter the relationship between the central and constituent governments in the medium term. In other cases, shocks triggered permanent centralization, e. Overall, the German case supports the postulated hypothesis in that severe shocks led to a permanent or at least immediate centralization, although this effect was not particularly strong and in some cases reversed in the medium term, partially even leading to some decentralization.

The evidence also confirms that fiscal instruments dominate as the instruments of centralization in times of shock. To discuss the impact of the collective attitudes of citizens, organized interest groups and the media, we draw on the literature cited hereafter. Citizens and media outlets mostly favor uniform policies across Germany Scharpf , f. In the s, citizens and the media pressured political actors to harmonize the highly decentralized policy field of pre-tertiary education.


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This resulted in an even stronger coordination of Land education policies on the one hand and investment programs by the federal government to expand child-care facilities and all-day schools on the other. Citizen attitudes supportive of unitary governance restricted governmental positions in some cases, yet mostly reinforced governmental preferences. The media mostly do not create but merely voice the unitary orientations of German citizens Funk , The processes of the two largest reforms of the federal order , did not attract major interest from the media or the citizenry.

Contrary to the theoretical expectation, the attitudes of citizens and the media did not change significantly even as contextual factors varied over time. The support for uniform policies has been continuously high across Germany even for Land tasks such as education, local election law and law enforcement Grube , f. The voting patterns of citizens strongly nationalized in the s and s, signaling a low demand for regional diversity. There is mixed evidence on whether voters have increasingly based their decisions in Land elections on Land -specific conditions and issues after unification Burkhart ; Hough and Jeffery ; Jeffery , Interest groups have generally preferred centralization since the birth of the federation because it ensures uniformity of law for their members who are affected by the law, matches their own centralized organizational structure Kilper and Lhotta , f.

All in all, the evidence supports the impression that the collective attitudes of citizens, interest groups and the media had a centralizing effect of small magnitude as intervening variables between structural change and political agency. They were rather facilitators than drivers of change and mostly in line with governmental preferences. This contributed to centralization Kilper and Lhotta , f. The CSU has advocated decentralization in recent decades, with limited effect, but did not strongly defend regional autonomy in the early decades when most of the centralization occurred.

Overall, the hypothesis about the centralizing effect of a nationalized party system finds empirical support. These attitudes quickly converged when they were challenged by institutional interests. The initial centralization occurred even under CDU-led federal governments. Its judicature was mostly centrist and did not stop the ongoing centralization.

This also followed from its emphasis on the protection of basic rights, such as the equal treatment of human beings across Germany, which limited the autonomy of Land law making Kilper and Lhotta , This changed in the s with a series of Land -friendly judgments, which resulted in legislative decentralization. Thus, we confirm the hypothesis: Centralization is more likely to occur under a centralist constitutional court.

First, the federal parliament interpreted its legislative powers extensively, also using implied powers Klatt , f. Second, new tasks were quickly assigned to the federal exclusive or concurrent legislation by constitutional amendment i. Similarly, air traffic administration became a federal duty in Yet, contrary to the theoretical expectation for administrative federations, the use of concurrent rather than framework legislation was the main instrument of non-constitutional centralization.

Furthermore, the federal government was able to accumulate power through constitutional revisions rather easily mainly because the Bundesrat and not the Land parliaments is required to approve a transfer of power. The Bundesrat is composed of Land government ministers who were frequently willing to upload tasks to the federal government in exchange for co-decision-making rights for the Bundesrat. This allowed them to free themselves from the interests of their party groups and become visible to national media. Similar to Land governments, the Land ministerial administrations preferred coordination with the federal administration or other Land administrations to coordination with politicians in their own Land Scharpf , Also contrary to the theoretical expectation, centralization occurred almost as frequently in the administrative as in the legislative realm—to some degree because legislation was already rather centralized at the outset.

Only when adding instances of decentralization, were changes of legislative powers more frequent than in the administrative field. The parliamentary system has rather favored centralization. The executive-federalism style of vertical intergovernmental relations that typically goes together with a parliamentary system has become markedly elaborate in Germany and has further weakened the decision-making power of the Land parliamentarians because of the self-interest logic of executives.

This overall trend is occasionally breached by instances of decentralization. The assessment of twenty-two policy fields and five fiscal indicators demonstrates that many changes, which are analyzed in the academic literature, are too small to be considered a significant change of the vertical distribution of power of the federation overall.

Three processes or events stand out in terms of the magnitude of change in the federation. First, an incremental centralization occurred in the s and s. Second, the Great Fiscal Reform of amplified this centralizing process and came closest to constituting a critical juncture. Third, the federalism reforms of and combined both decentralizing and centralizing measures, but do not represent a critical juncture.