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United States. Office of the US High Commissioner for Germany / A program to foster citizen participation in government and politics in Germany

7. Legislative organization and practice,   pp. 21-23 PDF (2.0 MB)

8. Federal-state relations,   pp. 23-24 PDF (1.3 MB)

Page 23

in "C" above, and the groups of Landtage mem-
bers will follow a comparable program vis-a-vis
selected State legislatures and State activities.
(4) Pamphlets
In anticipation of the time when other progress
makes it possible to attack the main problems in
this field - relations between legislators and con-
stituents, and executive and party domination - it
is proposed in the coming year to issue four pam-
phlets for circulation which will lay the ground-
work for an understanding of desirable changes in
"Your Representative". This will discuss the de-
sirable relationship between the individual legis-
lator and his constituents. It will state the present
situation, and then consider what the constituent
may properly expect of the legislator, and how he
may make his views known. From the other side
it will discuss the legislator's relationship, not only
to his party supporters but to the public at large,
how he can keep in contact with them and with
public opinion, and what services he can and should
"The Citizen and the Legislature." This will deal,
again from two points of view, with the right of
the citizen to participate in the legislative process.
It will consider the obligation of the legislature as
a body to the public, means of carrying it out and
means by which the citizen can make his views felt.
It will consider the role of radio and press. On the
other hand it will treat of the advantage to the
legislature of public support and understanding and
of practical means of developing this.
"Public Hearings." This will develop the benefits
both to the public and legislature of public hear-
ings, and examine the techniques and the limita-
"Public Information." This will discuss the right
of the public to full information on what its gov-
ernment is doing. This is not limited to information
about legislation, although that is an important
aspect. The role of the press and radio will be
considered, and techniques of government report-
ing will be set forth.
(5) Land Offices
The suggestions made in Program Item 6 for
Land Offices are equally applicable here.
In addition Land Offices should encourage the
initiation of legislative reference services and
should discuss with individual legislators the prob-
lems suggested in (1) above.
(6) Kreis Offices
See (1) and (5) preceding.
(7) Newspapers and Radio
An attempt will be made to interest the news-
papers in a more complete coverage of legislation
while it is pending and before it is passed. Even
those newspapers which are most devoted to the
public interest seem to fail in this respect. Un-
doubtedly the reticence of governments and legis-
latures concerning pending legislation is a cause.
Newspaper support for public hearings on impor-
tant bills will also be sought. After the prelim-
inary discussions with German newspaper editors,
it is planned, if possible, to hold a series of con-
ferences dealing with these problems. The same
aid will be sought from radio commentators.
(8) Films
One motion picture short presenting the proper
relationship between the constituent and legislator
is planned for the coming year.
U.S. movie shorts will also be examined to see
whether with editing they may be adapted to Ger-
man audiences.
The Federal constitution (Basic Law) establishes
a federal system with adequate definition of the
fields of jurisdiction of the Federal and Land gov-
ernments. Already, however, there is an observable
tendency towards the extension of Federal legisla-
tion into fields reserved to the Laender. Centraliza-
tion of power in the national government is a basic
policy of several of the political parties. The pres-
ent generation of Germans is accustomed to cen-
tralized power and has little understanding of fed-
eralism as a defense for democracy, or of its philoso-
Many Germans appear tacitly to reject the prin-
ciple that sovereignty rests with the people, and
may be delegated by them to different levels of
(1) To further an understanding among the
German leaders and people of the principles and
importance of a federal system, including the prin-
ciple that sovereignty rests with the German people
and is exercised by the Federal and state govern-
ments through delegation from them.
(2) To encourage them to protect the line of
division of powers drawn by the Federal constitu-
Considerable efforts were made prior to the
adoption of the Basic Law to persuade German
leaders and jurists of the importance of establish-
ing a federal system. A majority of the CDU-CSU
representatives appeared to accept it as a sound
foundation for the new state. Generally the other
parties rejected it in principle, but they had to
make concessions because authority to draft a
Basic Law had been given only on condition that
it should establish a federal state.
The Basic Law itself is reasonably satisfactory
in this respect. Article 73 lists the fields in which
the Federation has exclusive legislative authority,
and Article 75, those where it has the right to
establish general provisions binding on the states.
Article 74 sets forth the fields of concurrent leg-
islation, and Article 72 defines and limits the fed-
eral right to act in these concurrent fields. Under
Article 70 all legislative power not given to the
Federation remains with the Laender.
Article 125, however, provides that pre-existing
laws in the fields of concurrent legislation become
federal law if they are uniformly valid within one
or more zones of occupation. This article appears
to reinstate the old centralized Reich law in cases
where the Federation would have now no right to
initiate new legislation.

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