Why is federalism better than Marxism?

State / Federalism

1. Concept and historical background

Federal state (Bs) stands conceptually between the poles state union and unitary state. He tries to productively cope with the tension between diversity and unity by dividing the state functions territorially into two independent political bodies, the member states and the central state (in D the states and the federal government). As historical reality shows, the Bs term covers a considerable range of different design options with a stronger focus on one of the two poles (confederal or unitarian Bs.). The federal content of a concrete → political system can never be derived from the normative specifications (constitution) alone, but depends on the factual backing by the developments, especially in politics, economy and society, which shape the dynamics of the BS. As a difficult balancing act . One position regards the Bs. Anyway only as a stopover on the way to a unified state, although international experience so far does not speak for the inevitability of such a "one-way street".

B. is closely linked to the term federalism (F), which is usually understood more comprehensively. In principle, two reasons for justification are given for the Bs. On the one hand, it enables the state-institutional representation of regional differences in the form of member states. B. ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious, and at the same time allow a higher level of integration, usually desired for economic, security and foreign policy reasons, in a larger network - the central state. In this line of reasoning, the focus is on the integration task, the consideration of heterogeneous, regionally concentrated interests and characteristics, a task that is often encountered particularly in the historical development of Bs. On the other hand, the division of power in the service of safeguarding freedom is mentioned, since the Bs. Is associated with a vertical separation of powers. In the context of this justification, further supplementary or specific aspects are mentioned such as → principle of subsidiarity, greater opportunities for experimentation, increased opportunities for participation both for citizens and for organizations - e. B. regional parties and regional government chances for the central state opposition - as well as the possibility to distribute the problem and protest pressure on different state levels.

Federal structures of various kinds have played an important role in German history. The first formal Bs. As a "small German solution", the empire of 1871, was characterized by the strong dynastic component, the extreme preponderance of Prussia with almost 2/3 of the population and area and a financial constitution - the litmus test of weight distribution in the Bs. -, which made the empire a boarder of the member states through matricular contributions as the main source of finance. In the Weimar Republic the BS. Was "democratized" and the central state level was now the dominant actor in the financial constitution, but Prussia's extreme preponderance at the state level was retained. With the Third Reich, in accordance with National Socialist ideology, the federalist structural elements were eliminated in favor of a rigid, unitary state.

2. Basic Law and Federal State

Not least in response to → National Socialism, the BS principle was hardly controversial in West Germany after the Second World War, but opinion polls showed that it had little support from the population. It was anchored in the → GG as one of the state structure principles and normatively exaggerated by the "eternity clause" of Art. 79 (3) GG, in that it was withdrawn from any change during the validity of the GG. Regardless of the agreement in principle both between the Western allies - despite different motives, e.g. B. own political traditions in the USA and the desire to weaken the German central power in France - as well as the western German actors, the specific design of the BS was one of the most controversial points in the GG deliberations. In addition to the requirements of the victorious powers, the political rebuilding from "below", ie. H. the existence advantage of the countries, as well as the different party orientations with the centralistic traditions of KPD and → SPD on the one hand, the centrifugal tendencies of → CSU and center on the other side of the spectrum.

A far-reaching requirement of the victorious powers was the dissolution of Prussia, whereby an extreme asymmetry was removed, but at the same time mostly "artificial" new countries were created, which were also based on the division into zones of occupation. Of the newly created West German → federal states, only BY and the two Hanseatic cities of HH and HB were able to rely on established state traditions. B. SH, at least tie in with a historical sense of togetherness. The fragile, artificial character of most of the newly created federal states and doubts about their viability due to the different size and equipment were expressed not least in the requirement of a reorganization (Art. 29 GG). The lack of fundamental regionally bound ethnic, linguistic or cultural differences also meant that it was less the integration task than the additional vertical separation of powers, a system of checks and balances, that provided the justification for the newly created Bs.

Unlike z. B. the Bs model of the USA with the stronger focus on the separation of tasks between central and member states, the Bs model of the GG is characterized from the beginning by a German tradition of a group of tasks with different priorities of state powers at the federal and state levels. In → legislation, the federal government dominates in a complex system with exclusive legislation of the federal government (e.g. → foreign policy) and the federal states (limited essentially to the cultural area including the education system, police and local law), with a regulation that limits the depth of regulation Framework legislation of the federal government (e.g. legal relationships of the public service) and a "competing" legislation, which is actually an "alternative" legislation. In principle, the federal states or the federal government can act, but the federal states can only act as long as the federal government does not make any regulations. The federal government's right to intervene is bound by conditions - 1. the lack of "effective" regulation by the federal states, 2. interference with the interests of other federal states or the whole, 3. "safeguarding legal and economic unity, in particular safeguarding the uniformity of living conditions" (Art. 72 para. 2 GG old version) - but v. a. the third prerequisite has proven to be a wide-open gateway for federal competence in this materially extraordinarily broad area of ​​legislation. The presumption of competence in favor of the federal states in the case of non-enumerated legislative matters (Art. 30 GG), on the other hand, has turned out to be a rather symbolic act with limited practical significance.

In terms of administration, too, there is an independent administration of the federal government (especially defense, foreign service) and the states, but the administrative dominance clearly lies with the latter, who essentially implement the federal laws. The states' scope for discretion varies between the normal case of "state-owned administration under federal supervision" (Article 84 of the Basic Law) and the exceptional case of "federal contract administration" (Article 85 of the Basic Law). For the judiciary, the lower and middle instances are located within the continuous instances of the federal states, but the highest federal courts, as the decisive revision instances, guarantee a uniform national legal interpretation. The → Federal Constitutional Court plays an important role not least as a decision-making body in federal-state conflicts over the interpretation of the constitution.

The close connection between the federal government and the federal states is also evident in the principle of homogeneity (Art. 28 GG), which binds the constitutional order of the federal states to the political structural principles specified for the federal government in the GG. For the borderline case of serious conflicts with individual states, the federal government even has the - so far never used - instrument of "federal compulsion" (Art. 37 GG), i. H. if necessary, he can use force, but this requires the consent of the Federal Council.

The → Federal Council, formally a federal organ, is in reality the most important instrument of the totality of the federal states to assert their interests in the formation of will at the federal level. The characteristics of the Bundesrat - occupation by the state governments, different voting rights and thus narrowly limited consideration of the very different population sizes of the states - were particularly controversial in the GG deliberations. The Federal Council's most important channel of influence is its involvement in legislation. While he even has a veto position in the case of laws that require approval, his objection to other laws can be overruled by a corresponding majority in the Bundestag. In addition to the influence on legislation and administration, the states' rights to participate in personnel policy are important. B. in the election of the → Federal President and the judges of the Federal Constitutional Court. For the budgets of the federal government and the federal states (→ public finances) the principle applies that they are "autonomous and independent of one another" (Art. 109 Para. 1 GG). When it comes to tax legislation, there is, in turn, exclusive federal legislation (customs duties and financial monopolies), predominantly competing legislation and finally reserve rights of the states and → municipalities ("taxes with locally determined scope" and rates of assessment for real taxes). The approval of the Federal Council is again required for taxes in which the federal states or municipalities participate. A separation system was provisionally provided for the distribution of tax revenue (income sovereignty), but the federal legislature was given the task of creating a final financial constitution. A peculiar mixed system of federal and state responsibilities was created for the financial administration, namely under pressure from the Allies, who intervened in the financial constitution as a central area of ​​conflict between the federal government and the states in favor of the interests of the states.

Source: Andersen, Uwe / Wichard Woyke (ed.): Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 7th, updated Aufl. Heidelberg: Springer VS 2013. Author of the article: Uwe Andersen