In The Room Where It Happens

Authored by:
Julianne O'Connell

Julianne O'Connell

Halli - Hallo!

Hello, hello! Happy Tuesday

Today our lovely Berlin LC Session 2 participants are coming to you live from the Bundestag, or, more specifically, the Reichstag. This building has been monumental in German and Berlin history and now serves as the home of Germany’s parliament and a prominant feature of Berlin's skyline. 

Just to give a quick overview of German politics (if there even IS such a thing...):

Germany is a federal and a parliamentary republic. The parliament, also known as the Bundestag has the power with the members of the Bundestag working together in coalitions to vote and pass bills. Germany also has the Bundesrat as part of its legislative system. As soon as the bill is at any place affecting the matters of the 16 Bundesländer, the Bundesrat has also to vote for and then pass the bill. Elections are held every four years and are based on proportional representation. The system is set up to prevent one single party from having a majority in parliament. Coalitions are normally formed between the party with the largest share of the vote and a smaller one so that the two in combination have over half the seats in parliament.

The Bundestag should not be confused with the Reichstag which is the actual building that we visited yesterday. The Reichstag has a fascinating history that can literally be seen on the walls. 

A favorite for many of the students was seeing the Russian graffiti that young Russians scribbled on the walls after they took over the Reichstag on April 30, 1945. The Soviets regarded the building's capture as symbolic of their overall victory against Nazi Germany because they mistook it for “Hitler's lair,” as one graffito calls it.

Others enjoyed walking up the large, futuristic glass dome which is open for tourists and visitors and functions as an economically and environmentally friendly heating and cooling system for the party members who sit in the plenary below it.

This excursion is one of my favorites as it highlights some of the major differences between German and American politics and helps our participants understand how laws are made and passed in this diverse country and economic powerhouse.

Bis zum nächsten Mal!

Until next time!

Share This Post:

Related Posts