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The Long-Term Development of Federalism in Germany: An Essay

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The Long-Term Development of Federalism in Germany: An Essay

For years, German citizens have been frustrated by having to navigate a federal maze to get government services. During the budget debate in the German Bundestag on September 7, 2016, Chancellor Angela Merkel put it succinctly:

“German citizens are not interested in which level is currently responsible (for a government service) but want access for themselves.”

Except for knowing which government is responsible for education policy, most citizens do not know which order of government oversees what.  Even in the case of schools, federalism is usually seen as a disadvantage because schooling policies vary from state to state. Moving from one state to another often results in school problems for the children.  There are still many complaints about “petty state policies.”

Why has federalism remained a fundamental constitutional principle in Germany – despite two horrendous historical catastrophes in the twentieth century? It’s simply the result of history.