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The Federal Republic of Germany adopted its democratic constitution in 1949. Its structure and authority is derived from German legal traditions as well as Roman law. The emphasis of this document is the protection of individual rights and the division of powers within the federal structure of Germany.

In Germany, the head of state is the Federal President. The Executive Branch of the government is made up of the Federal President and the federal cabinet. The federal president nominates the chancellor and the chancellor's cabinet appointments and may dismiss the cabinet appointments upon recommendation of the chancellor. The role of the Federal President is mostly ceremonial: to represent the country and its legitimacy. He or she gives direction to general political debates. The Federal President is elected by indirect vote.

The constitution dictates that the president is to represent the Federal Republic of Germany in matters of international law, accredits diplomats, and concludes treaties with foreign states on behalf of Germany. The president also signs all federal laws, though he does not have veto power. The president serves for 5 years.

The Federal Chancellor is the head of the government and therefore, the head of the Executive Branch. He or she is elected by the parliament and chooses the federal ministers. The chancellor is in charge of running the government on a day-to-day basis. The chancellor serves for 4 years.

The Bundesrat, or federal council, is the upper chamber of the German legislature. Bundesrat members are not elected, but they are delegated by the state governments. There is no set term; instead, they serve for as long as they represent their respective states. There are 69 seats in the Bundesrat. The legislative authority of the Bundesrat is subordinate to the authority of the Bundestag, but the upper house plays a vital role nevertheless. The federal government needs to present all legislative initiatives to the Bundesrat before a proposal is passed on to the Bundestag. Additionally, they must approve legislation which affects policy areas.

The Bundestag, or federal diet, is the lower chamber and is made up of at least 598 members, depending upon the election results. They are elected by a plurality vote in single-member constituencies. All legislation originates in the Bundestag. The powers of the Bundestag are balanced by the state parliaments. They are allocated by direct, popular vote through a mixed member proportional system. The Bundestag has four-year terms.

Together with the Judicial branch, these make up the branches of Germany's government.



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