The West German Legislative Process: A Case Study of Two Transportation Bills

By Gerard Braunthal | Go to book overview

[CHAPTER VII]
The Bundestag:
First Stage

At last, the focus of attention and action shifted to the Bundestag. As is true of lower chambers in other European parliaments, the Bundestag constitutionally wields greater powers than the Bundesrat. The Bundestag deputies are popularly elected for a four-year term, and, in theory, according to the Basic Law, are "representatives of the whole people, are not bound by orders and instructions, and are subject only to their conscience" (Article 38). This constitutional provision partially reflects the views of Edmund Burke, who felt a legislator should represent the general rather than the particular interest. It does not, however, reflect one aspect of the contemporary political situation. The Basic Law has not been able to check the accretion of power by the political parties nor to deter them from imposing a high measure of voting discipline on the deputies.1

____________________
1
For a full description of the Bundestag, see Loewenberg; Friedrich Schäfer , Der Bundestag ( Cologne and Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1967); and Hans Trossmann, Der Deutsche Bundestag:Organisation und Arbeitsweise ( Darmstadt: Neue Darmstädter Verlagsanstalt, 1963), Der zweite deutsche Bundestag ( Bonn: Verlag Bonner Universitäts-Buchdruckerei, 1954), and Parlamentsrecht und Praxis des Deutschen Bundestages ( Bonn: Wilhelm Stollfuss, 1967). For a history of German parliaments, see Richard K. Ullmann and

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