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States (Länder) of Germany (Twilight of a New Era)

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According to the Constitution Germany is a federal republic. The Lander (States) participate in the Federation by means of their delegates at the Bundesrat. The Länder designate and can recall at any moment their delegates at the Bundesrat.

Organization of Länder

A State's government must "conform to the principles of republican, democratic and social government, based on the rule of law". The federal government can exercise authority only in those areas specified in the Constitution, in the rest of to the areas the Länder have authority. However, federal law superseded or nullified Länder law in the event of a conflict. Conflicts between the Länder and the federal government are jurisdiction of the Federal Constitutional Court.

Usually the government of a state consists

  • a Minister-President (State-President in Baden, Baden-Wurttemberg, Hessen, Chief State Minister in Thuringia, Senatspräsident in Bremen and Hansestädte, Erster Bürgermeister in Hamburg and Lübeck, and Regierender Bürgermeister in Greater Berlin) named or appointed by the elected legislative assembly and political responsibly before it.
  • a Governing Council, usually called State or General Ministries (Staatsinisterium or Gesamtministerium). Called Senate in Bremen, Hamburg, Lübeck, Hansestädte and Greater Berlin. Its members (2 to 6 members) are appointed by the Minister-President and are also politically responsibly to the legislative assembly.
  • an elected legislative assembly (Landtag) Called Bürgerschaft in Bremen, Hamburg, Lübeck and Hansestädte or Abgeordnetenhaus in Greater Berlin. The State of Prussia as a bicameral legislature (a Staatsrat - State Council - integrated by elected representatives of the provinces and a Landtag). The legislatures are popularly elected every four or five years (depending on the state), and the Minister-President is then chosen by a majority vote among the Landtag's members.

Administratively the Länder are subdivided in Districts (Landkreise or Kreise) and municipalities (Gemeinden). The municipalities are ruled by elected councils and by an executive, the mayor, who is chosen either by the council or directly by the people.

However Prussia is subdivide in three provinces (14 until 1935). The provinces are bodies combining regional home rule through representatives delegated from each rural and urban county. The First President (Oberpräsident) is appointed by the Interior Ministry and is at the head of the provincial administration as the authority of the general state administration. The Provincial Council, First President and five members elected by the Provincial Committee. The County Assembly (Provinziallandtag) is elected for four years, the number of members depends on the population of the province. The provinces send representatives to the Bundesrat and the Prussian Staatsrat.

Territorial changes

The Constitution states that the division of the federal territory into Länder .. may be revised to ensure that each Land be of a size and capacity to perform its functions effectively. The creation or merger of new states can be done by federal legislation (as it happened with the creation of Thuringia and break up of Prussian and territorial consolidation of the Länder), by referendum (like the union of Baden-Wurttemberg, Meklenburg, Schleswig-Holstein and others) or Länder agreement (Freie Hansestädte and Rhein-Ruhr).

The territorial evolution has been:

  • 1920 Thuringia created from the merger of the former Thuringian States (Federal Law for the creation of Thuringia),
  • 1921 Mecklenburg, by Lander referedum that approved the union of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz states
  • 1921 Schleswig-Holstein, by provincial referendum that approved its separation from Prussia;
  • 1929 Baden-Wurttemberg, by Länder referendum that approved the union of Baden and Wurttemberg.
  • 1930 Federal Law for the reorganization of Prussia and Berlin. Creates five new Länder and makes territorial adjustments to eliminate exclaves;
  • 1931 Free Hanseatic Cities, after approval of Länder agreement by Burgerschafts of Bremen, Hamburg and Lübeck
  • 1945 Rhein-Rhur, after approval of Länder agreement between Rheinland-Pflaz and Westfalen

Länder

States (Länder) of FR of Germany
Flag Land Capital Votes in Bundesrat Notes
1 Free State of Prussia (wide borders) Free State of Prussia Berlin, from 1930 Postdam 26
2 Flag of Bavaria (striped) Free State of Bavaria München 10
3 Flag of Saxony Free State of Saxony Dresden 7
4 Hesse People's State of Hesse Darmstadt 2 Gains Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau in 1930
5 Flag of Thuringia State of Thuringia Weimar 2 Since 1920, created from the Thuringian states (7 in total)
6 Flag of Mecklenburg (1992 proposal) Free State of Mecklenburg Schwerin 1 Since 1921, created from the union of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz states
7 Flag of Schleswig-Holstein

Free State of Schleswig-Holstein

Kiel 1 Since 1921, created from the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein
8 Flag of Baden-Württemberg (state, lesser arms) Free State of Baden-Württemberg Stuttgart Since 1929, created by the merger of the states of Baden and Württemberg. Gains Prussian province of Hohenzollern in 1930
9 Flag of Berlin Greater Berlin Berlin Since 1930, created from the Prussian province of Berlin
10 Flagge des Landschaftsverbandes Westfalen-Lippe Free State of Westfalen Münster Since 1930, created from the Prussian province of Westfalen and the state of Lippe
11 Flag of Rhineland (TNE) State of Rheinland-Pfalz Koblenz Since 1930, created from the Prussian province of Rheinland and Bavaria's Rhenish Palatinate
12 Flag Hannover (TNE) Free State of Hannover Hannover Since 1930, created from the Prussian province of Hannover and the States of Oldenburg and Schaumburg-Lippe and parts of Brunswick
13 Flag of Sachsen-Anhalt Free State of Sachsen-Anhalt Magdenburg Since 1930, created from the Prussian province of Sachsen and the state of Anhalt
14 Flag Free Hanseatic Cities (TNE) Free Hanseatic Cities (Freie Hansestädte) Hamburg Since 1931, created from Bremen, Hamburg and Lübeck
15 Free State of Rhein-Ruhr Düsseldorf Since 1945, created from territories of Rheinland-Pflaz and Westfalen


Former states (Länder) of FR of Germany
Flag Land Capital Votes in Bundesrat Notes
1 Flagge Großherzogtum Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach 1897-1918 Free State of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Weimar 1 merged to create Thuringia 1920
2 600px-Flagge Herzogtum Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha Free State of Saxe-Altenburg Altenburg 1 merged to create Thuringia 1920
3 600px-Flagge Herzogtum Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha Free State of Saxe-Gotha Gotha 1 merged to create Thuringia 1920
4 600px-Flagge Herzogtum Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha Free State of Saxe-Meiningen Meiningen 1 merged to create Thuringia 1920
5 Provinz Pommern flag Free State of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen Sondershausen 1 merged to create Thuringia 1920
6 Provinz Pommern flag Free State of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt Rudolstadt 1 merged to create Thuringia 1920
7 Flag of Germany (3-2 aspect ratio) People's State of Reuss Gera 1 merged to create Thuringia 1920
8 600px-Flagge Herzogtum Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha Free State of Saxe-Coburg Coburg 1 merged with Bavaria 1920
9 Flag of Germany (3-2 aspect ratio) Free State of Waldeck-Pyrmont Arolsen 1 merged with Prussia 1921
10 Flagge Großherzogtümer Mecklenburg Free State of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Schwerin 1 Merged to create Mecklenburg 1921
11 Flagge Großherzogtümer Mecklenburg Free State of Mecklenburg-Strelitz Neustrelitz 1 Merged to create Mecklenburg 1921
12 Flag of Baden Republic of Baden Karlsruhe 3 Merged to create Baden-Württemberg in 1929
13 Flag of Württemberg Free People's State of Württemberg Stuttgart 4 Merged to create Baden-Württemberg in 1929
14 Civil flag of Oldenburg Free State of Oldenburg Oldenburg 1 Merged to create Hannover in 1930
15 Brunswick Flag Free State of Brunswick Brunswick 1 Merged to create Hannover and Sachsen-Anhalt in 1930
16 Flagge Fürstentum Lippe Free State of Lippe Detmold 1 Merged to create Westfalen in 1930
17 Flagge Fürstentum Schaumburg-Lippe Free State of Schaumburg-Lippe Bückeburg 1 Merged to create Hannover in 1930
18 Flagge Herzogtum Anhalt Free State of Anhalt Dessau 1 Merged to create Sachsen-Anhalt in 1930
19 Flag of Bremen Free Hanseatic City of Bremen Bremen 1 Merged to create Hansestädte in 1931
20 Flag of Hamburg Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg Hamburg 1 Merged to create Hansestädte in 1931
21 Flagge der Hansestadt Lübeck Free and Hanseatic City of Lübeck Lübeck 1 Merged to create Hansestädte in 1931

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