A Presidentializing Party State? A Presidentializing Party State? The Federal Republic of Germany

Thomas Poguntke

in The Presidentialization of Politics

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199252015
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602375 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

A Presidentializing Party State? A Presidentializing Party State? The Federal Republic of Germany

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The political process of the Federal Republic has always been characterized by two seemingly contradictory attributes. Germany was said to be a Chancellor democracy and party state at the same time. Yet, this chapter shows that both features are not mutually exclusive. While political parties continue to occupy a central position in the political process of the Federal Republic, particularly when as regards political recruitment, they have been weakened when it comes to controlling the chief executive and the legislative process. The specific nature of German cooperative federalism furnishes the Chancellor with a central role in the decision-making process that makes him structurally more independent of his own party and of his coalition partners. This tendency has been augmented by the growing resources for the chancellor’s office, the internationalization of politics, the increasing tendency of the electronic media to focus on leaders, and the general decline of cleavage-based politics. At the same time, political parties have become leadership-dominated. While there are clear tendencies towards the presidentialization of the political process in the Federal Republic, parties continue to control the access to the chief executive office, and they still hold the power to remove their leaders.

Keywords: chancellor democracy; cooperative federalism; Germany; party government; party state; presidentialization

Chapter.  10874 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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