The German Bundestag is composed of deputies of the German people who as a rule are elected for 4 years in general, direct, free, equal and secret elections. It is the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany and its seat is in Berlin.

The Bundestag is the central place where democratic discussions are held and decisions are taken for all citizens. Its essential tasks include the passing of laws, the election of the Federal Chancellor, control of the Federal Government and the adoption of the national budget (‘power of the purse’).

There are other important powers. The most important are

  • to decide on a motion of the head of government for a vote of confidence and to be able to bring down the Federal Chancellor by means of a constructive vote of no confidence, i. e. the election of a successor,
  • to determine that a state of tension and defence exists,
  • to designate two thirds of the members of the “Joint Committee”, which in emergency cases assumes many of the parliament’s responsibilities,
  • to take the final decision on a conclusion of peace,
  • to participate in the election of the Federal President,
  • to have the right to impeach the Federal President before the Federal Constitutional Court,
  • to elect half of the judges of the Federal Constitutional Court,
  • to participate in the selection of judges for the supreme federal courts,
  • to send members to international agencies,
  • to establish committees of inquiry and study commissions,
  • to deal with requests and complaints (petitions) addressed to the Bundestag,
  • to consider objections against the validity of a Bundestag election,
  • to take decisions in immunity matters so that members of the Bundestag will no longer protected from prosecution.

The German Bundestag is completely independent and free when electing its bodies, in particular the President and his or her deputy.

Legal bases

Articles 38 to 48 of the Basic Law (GG)

Last update: 1 October 2014