BAMF - Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge - The political and legal system

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The political and legal system

Everyone who lives in Germany must comply with the central principles of the political and legal system. One particularly important principle is that men and women have equal rights.
The most important legal foundation governing life in Germany is the Basic Law (Grundgesetz). This is the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Constitutional rights

Articles 1 to 19 of the Basic Law assure the constitutional rights of the individual towards the state. Particularly important constitutional rights are

  • the protection of dignity
  • right to life and physical integrity
  • the equality of all people before the law
  • freedom of worship
  • freedom of speech
  • freedom of assembly
  • freedom to choose and practise a profession
  • guarantee of property and the right of inheritance
  • freedom of the press

Article 20 describes the most important principles according to which the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany is structured:

  • federal state
  • democracy
  • constitutional state
  • social welfare state

Federal state

Germany is a federal state consisting of 16 Federal Länder:

  • Baden-Württemberg
  • Bavaria
  • Berlin
  • Brandenburg
  • Bremen
  • Hamburg
  • Hesse
  • Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
  • Lower Saxony
  • North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Rhineland-Palatinate
  • Saarland
  • Saxony
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Schleswig-Holstein
  • Thuringia


Germany is a democratic state. This means that all the power of the state comes from the people. Democracy is exercised through:

  • Elections
  • Votes
  • Legislative bodies (parliament)
  • Executive bodies (government and administration)
  • The judiciary (courts)

The Bundestag (that is the Federal Parliament) is made up of the elected representatives of the people.

Constitutional state

Germany is a constitutional state. The decisions of the State – the Government – are bound to abide by the law. The actions of the State can be monitored by the courts. Therefore, for example, the Federal Constitutional Court can check whether newly passed laws are consistent with the Constitution. This protects citizens’ fundamental rights and regulates state actions.

Social welfare state

Germany is a social welfare state. This means that in principle every citizen should provide for himself by working. However, the state helps people who cannot provide an income for themselves in whole or in part. The state provides a range of social benefits. The most important include the statutory social security and unemployment benefit, and also child benefit.

Date 29 April 2016

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