Federal Ministry of Finance (Germany)
The Federal Ministry of Finance, abbreviated BMF, is the cabinet-level finance ministry of Germany, with its seat at the Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus in Berlin and a secondary office in Bonn. The current Federal Minister of Finance is Olaf Scholz. In German politics, the Ministry of Finance beside the Interior, Foreign and Defence ministries is counted as one of the "classical portfolios", which were part of the first German government under Otto von Bismarck following the Unification of 1871. Fiscal policy in the German Empire was predominantly the domain of the various states responsible for all direct taxation according to the 1833 Zollverein treaties; the federal government received indirect contributions from the states. Matters of fiscal policy at the federal level was the exclusive responsibility of the German Chancellery under Otto von Bismarck. However, in 1877 a special finance department was established, which with effect from 14 July 1879 was separated from the chancellery as the Imperial Treasury, a federal agency in its own right.
With its seat vis-à-vis on Wilhelmplatz in Berlin, it was first headed by a subsecretary, from 1880 by a Secretary of State only answerable to the chancellor. After World War I, the newly established Weimar Republic had to face huge reparations and a fiscal emergency. To cope with the implications, the former Reichsschatzamt in 1919 was re-organised as a federal ministry, the Reichsministerium der Finanzen, as supreme financial authority headed by a federal minister. Besides a Reich Treasury Ministry was established for the administration of the federal property, both agencies were merged in 1923. In the German cabinet of Chancellor Franz von Papen, Undersecretary Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk was appointed Finance Minister in 1932, an office he held throughout the Nazi era until 1945; the ministry played a vital role in financing the German re-armament, in the "Aryanization" of Jewish property, German war economy, the plundering of occupied countries in World War II. The budget deficit had reached heady heights on the eve of the war, aggrandised by hidden Mefo and Oeffa bill financing.
In turn, saving banks and credit institutions were obliged to sign war bonds while price stability was enforced by government intervention and the German public was called up to bank surplus money. After World War II the ministry was re-established in 1949 and renamed the West German Bundesministerium der Finanzen. Since 1999, the Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus in Berlin has been the headquarters of the ministry; the Ministry of Finance in Berlin in the 1930s' and 1940s' was responsible for the plunder of Jewish assets throughout Europe. After Germany took over Austria on March 12th, 1938 every Jewish family in Austria received from the Ministry of Finance in Berlin, a form called "Verzeichnis uber das Vermogen von Juden nach dem Stand von 27 April, 1938." All Jewish households had to list the value of all their assets including silver, real estate, bank accounts, businesses / inventories and jewelry. This included silverware such as knives and spoons. In addition all debts owed to Aryan Germans had to be listed.
On the form Austrian Jews were warned that they had to complete these documents by June 30th, 1938 or risk serious punishment such as imprisonment. These forms had to be mailed back to the Finanzamt in Berlin; the Ministry is the supreme federal authority in revenue administration and governs a number of subordinate federal and local authorities such as the Federal Centre for Data Processing and Information Technology. The Ministry's wider portfolio includes public-law agencies and corporations such as the Federal Finance Regulator and Real Estate regulatory bodies; the finance minister is the only cabinet minister who can veto a decision of the government if it would lead to additional expenditure. The German newspaper FAZ stated, the Ministry of Finance is the most important Ministry in the German government; the Finance Ministry is responsible for all aspects of tax and revenue policy in Germany and plays a significant role in European Union policy. It has nine directorates-general: Directorate-General Z: Deals with all ministerial organizational matters, including human resources, IT, occupational training and administration Directorate-General L: Coordinates strategy development and policy planning to advance decision-making processes manages the Ministry’s relations with the parliament and federal cabinet Directorate-General I: Determines the strategic focus of the Ministry's fiscal policy instruments, forecasts public budget trends and conducts macroeconomic research Directorate-General II: Responsible for drawing up the federal budget by calculating revenue and spending for each government policy area.
Directorate-General III: Responsible for levying customs and excise duties, as well as for monitoring cross-border goods traffic. Directorate-General IV: Together with the other member states of the EU, the Ministry works to improve coordination among the different systems of taxes. Directorate-General V: Coordinates financial relations between central and local governments. Responsible for public law, legal affairs, handling proceedings before Germany's Federal Constitutional Court and the European courts. Furthermore, this directorate-general deals with settlement of war burdens, compensation for National Socialist injustices, unresolved property issues i
Electoral system of Germany
The German Federal Election System regulates the election of the members of the national parliament, called Bundestag. According to the principles governing the elections laws, set down in Art. 38 of German Basic Law, elections are to be universal, free and secret. Furthermore, the German Basic Law stipulates that Bundestag elections are to take place every four years and that one can vote, be elected, upon reaching the age of 18. All other stipulations for the federal elections are regulated by the Federal Electoral Act. Elections always take place on a Sunday. Mail votes are possible upon application. Germans elect their members of parliament with two votes. One vote is for a direct candidate, who ought to receive a plurality vote in their electoral district; the second vote is used to elect a party list in each state as established by its respective party caucus. The Bundestag comprises seats representing each electoral district, with the remainder of seats being allocated to maintain proportionality based on the second vote.
Common practice is that direct candidates are placed on the electoral lists at higher rankings as a fall-back if they do not win their districts. According to Article 38, §1 of the German constitution, “the delegates of the German Parliament are elected in a general, free and secret vote.” These five principles of suffrage are fundamental rights: Any violation of the law can be brought up to the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany in form of a constitutional complaint. An election is general, if every citizen can take part in it: there are no restrictions such as in terms of income, health or any other arbitrary distinctions, but according to the jurisdiction of the Federal Constitutional Court, the prescription of a minimum voting age is compatible with the commonalty of the election. The exclusion from the active right to vote is – within narrow limitations – consistent with the Basic Constitutional Law; the exclusion of the passive right to vote is governed by somewhat less strict regulations.
The right to vote is in principle reserved for German citizens and the so-called “status Germans” who are refugees and expelled persons of German descent that settled in Germany. The introduction of a right to vote for foreigners would require an alteration of §20 of the constitution. An election is immediate; the process of an election based on lists compiled by the political parties is, compatible with the principle of an immediate election. An election is considered free if the government does not compel the people's voting decision in terms of content. According to the Federal Constitutional Court's dispensation of justice the principle of a free ballot would not be harmed if a compulsory vote was introduced by the Federal Electoral Law. Electoral advertising at government expense would, however, be incompatible with this principle of electoral law. However, the Federal Government is allowed to conduct public relations if its neutrality is preserved. Elections are confidential; the German Parliament's voting law states that no elector is allowed to announce his decision in the polling station.
Postal voting is problematic. Since the election's more important basic principle of universal suffrage would otherwise be violated, postal votes are admissible. In principle an election is considered equal; this is for example not the case if constituencies differ in size or if the way these constituencies are politically controlled causes advantages or disadvantages for certain groups of people. For electoral lawmaking the most difficult part in terms of constitutional principles is the equality of the election. On the one hand, certain inequalities are unavoidable as the constituencies can not be of equal size and the turnout, too, is not homogenous. On the other hand, the “Überhangmandate” and a “negatives Stimmgewicht” might influence the “one man, one vote” principle. On 3 July 2008, the Federal Constitutional Court declared the paradox of the “negatives Stimmgewicht”, still in effect, to be unconstitutional. For this reason election law has to be changed by 30 June 2011 so that a negative vote value will no longer be possible.
The five percent rule and the basic mandate clause are further strong interventions because they reject the influence of entire political streams and their voters in the parliament. The five percent rule and the overhang are in principle approved by the Federal Constitutional Court and the German jurisprudence. Suffrage is the civil right to vote. All German citizens over the age of 18 are allowed to vote, as long as they have lived in Germany for at least a three-month continuous period, within 25 years of the election. According to Art. 20, para. 2, p. 1 all power emanates from the people, the people of Germany. Therefore, Art. 12 para. 1 of German Federal Electoral Law determines in accordance with constitutional law, that only Germans in the sense of Art. 116, para. 1 are eligible to vote. Excluded from suffrage are Germans, who have been deprived of active suffrage
Federal Administrative Court (Germany)
The Federal Administrative Court is one of the five federal supreme courts of Germany. It is the court of the last resort for all cases of administrative law disputes between citizens and the state, it hears appeals from the Oberverwaltungsgerichte, or Superior Administrative Courts, which, in turn, are the courts of appeals for decisions of the Verwaltungsgerichte. However, cases concerning social security law belong to the jurisdiction of the Sozialgerichte with the Bundessozialgericht as federal court of appeals, cases of tax and customs law are decided by the Finanzgerichte, by the Bundesfinanzhof; the Bundesverwaltungsgericht has its seat at the former Reichsgericht building in Leipzig. Everhardt Franßen, 1991–2002 Media related to Reichsgericht Leipzig - Seat of the Federal Administrative Court of Germany at Wikimedia Commons Official homepage
Walter Scheel was a German politician. A member of the Free Democratic Party of Germany, he first served in government as Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development from 1961-66, he led the FDP from 1968-74. During the Chancellorship of Willy Brandt, Scheel was Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice Chancellor. Scheel became Acting Chancellor of Germany from 7-16 May 1974 following Brandt's resignation after the Guillaume Affair, he was elected shortly after as President, remaining in the role until 1979. Scheel was a member of the Evangelical Church in Germany. Scheel was born in Solingen, he completed his abitur at the Reformrealgymnsasium Schwertstraße. Scheel became a member of the Nazi Party in 1942. During World War II, he served in the Luftwaffe during the last years of the war as a radar operator on a Bf 110 night fighter; when his Free Democratic Party reentered government in a coalition with Konrad Adenauer's Christian Democratic Union in 1961, Scheel was appointed federal minister of economic cooperation and development.
He continued in that office under Chancellor Ludwig Erhard but brought about the downfall of the latter in late 1966 by resigning. A Christian Democratic/Social Democratic Grand Coalition followed. During this time, in 1968, Scheel took over the party presidency from right wing liberal Erich Mende. According to one study, the election of Walter Scheel to the FDP leadership in 1968 “represented a turn to the left and the Free Democrats indicated their wooing of the SPD by voting for the successful Social Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the Republic, Gustav Heinemann, in 1969.”In 1969, he led his party to form a new coalition with the Social Democrats. Under Chancellor Willy Brandt, Scheel became Vice Chancellor. Under their leadership, West Germany pursued a course of rapprochement and détente with the Soviet block and recognized the existence of the German Democratic Republic; this policy caused a massive public debate, with various Free and Social Democrats switching sides to the opposition.
Though an attempt to oust Brandt failed, the coalition had lost its slender majority. The parliamentary stalemate was ended by the dissolution of parliament and early elections in 1972, which brought great gains for the Social Democrats and enabled the coalition to continue. Henry Kissinger believed. On 7 May 1974, Brandt resigned as Chancellor after one of his aides, Günter Guillaume, was arrested as a spy for the East German state. Though this had been internally suspected since 1973, Brandt resigned. Scheel, as acting chancellor, chaired the government meetings for a little over a week, until Helmut Schmidt was elected. Hans Dietrich Genscher became Scheel's successor as minister. Scheel was elected President of a week after relinquishing his other government roles, he held the office from July 1974 until June 1979. At the funeral of Hanns Martin Schleyer in October 1977, Scheel gave a speech entitled shame. After the federal presidency, Scheel was Chairman of the Bilderberg Conference as well as President of the European Movement in Germany from 1980-85.
From 1980-89 he was President of the German section of the Union of European Federalists. He was named honorary chairman of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in 1991. Scheel died on 24 August 2016 following a long illness. Having lived to 97 years, 47 days he holds the record as the longest-lived German head of state, either imperial or elected. With Karl-Hermann Flach and Werner Maihofer: Die Freiburger Thesen der Liberalen. Rowohlt, Hamburg 1972, ISBN 3-499-11545-X. Die Zukunft der Freiheit – Vom Denken und Handeln in unserer Demokratie. Econ, 1979. Wen schmerzt noch Deutschlands Teilung? 2 Reden zum 17. Juni, Reinbek 1986, ISBN 3-499-18346-3. With Otto Graf Lambsdorff: Freiheit in Verantwortung, Deutscher Liberalismus seit 1945. Bleicher, 1988, ISBN 3-88350-047-X. With Jürgen Engert: Erinnerungen und Einsichten. Hohenheim-Verlag, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-89850-115-9. With Tobias Thalhammer: Gemeinsam sind wir stärker – Zwölf erfreuliche Geschichten über Jung und Alt. Allpart Media, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86214-011-4.
Hans-Dietrich Genscher: Heiterkeit und Härte: Walter Scheel in seinen Reden und im Urteil von Zeitgenossen. Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, Stuttgart 1984, ISBN 3-421-06218-8. Hans-Roderich Schneider: Präsident des Ausgleichs. Bundespräsident Walter Scheel. Ein liberaler Politiker. Verlag Bonn aktuell, Stuttgart 1975, ISBN 3-87959-045-1
Germany the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north and the Czech Republic to the east and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to the west. Germany includes 16 constituent states, covers an area of 357,386 square kilometres, has a temperate seasonal climate. With 83 million inhabitants, it is the second most populous state of Europe after Russia, the most populous state lying in Europe, as well as the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is a decentralized country, its capital and largest metropolis is Berlin, while Frankfurt serves as its financial capital and has the country's busiest airport. Germany's largest urban area is the Ruhr, with its main centres of Essen; the country's other major cities are Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Dresden, Bremen and Nuremberg. Various Germanic tribes have inhabited the northern parts of modern Germany since classical antiquity.
A region named Germania was documented before 100 AD. During the Migration Period, the Germanic tribes expanded southward. Beginning in the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation. After the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire, the German Confederation was formed in 1815; the German revolutions of 1848–49 resulted in the Frankfurt Parliament establishing major democratic rights. In 1871, Germany became a nation state when most of the German states unified into the Prussian-dominated German Empire. After World War I and the revolution of 1918–19, the Empire was replaced by the parliamentary Weimar Republic; the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 led to the establishment of a dictatorship, the annexation of Austria, World War II, the Holocaust. After the end of World War II in Europe and a period of Allied occupation, Austria was re-established as an independent country and two new German states were founded: West Germany, formed from the American and French occupation zones, East Germany, formed from the Soviet occupation zone.
Following the Revolutions of 1989 that ended communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe, the country was reunified on 3 October 1990. Today, the sovereign state of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic led by a chancellor, it is a great power with a strong economy. As a global leader in several industrial and technological sectors, it is both the world's third-largest exporter and importer of goods; as a developed country with a high standard of living, it upholds a social security and universal health care system, environmental protection, a tuition-free university education. The Federal Republic of Germany was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957 and the European Union in 1993, it is part of the Schengen Area and became a co-founder of the Eurozone in 1999. Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G7, the G20, the OECD. Known for its rich cultural history, Germany has been continuously the home of influential and successful artists, musicians, film people, entrepreneurs, scientists and inventors.
Germany has a large number of World Heritage sites and is among the top tourism destinations in the world. The English word Germany derives from the Latin Germania, which came into use after Julius Caesar adopted it for the peoples east of the Rhine; the German term Deutschland diutisciu land is derived from deutsch, descended from Old High German diutisc "popular" used to distinguish the language of the common people from Latin and its Romance descendants. This in turn descends from Proto-Germanic *þiudiskaz "popular", derived from *þeudō, descended from Proto-Indo-European *tewtéh₂- "people", from which the word Teutons originates; the discovery of the Mauer 1 mandible shows that ancient humans were present in Germany at least 600,000 years ago. The oldest complete hunting weapons found anywhere in the world were discovered in a coal mine in Schöningen between 1994 and 1998 where eight 380,000-year-old wooden javelins of 1.82 to 2.25 m length were unearthed. The Neander Valley was the location where the first non-modern human fossil was discovered.
The Neanderthal 1 fossils are known to be 40,000 years old. Evidence of modern humans dated, has been found in caves in the Swabian Jura near Ulm; the finds included 42,000-year-old bird bone and mammoth ivory flutes which are the oldest musical instruments found, the 40,000-year-old Ice Age Lion Man, the oldest uncontested figurative art discovered, the 35,000-year-old Venus of Hohle Fels, the oldest uncontested human figurative art discovered. The Nebra sky disk is a bronze artefact created during the European Bronze Age attributed to a site near Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt, it is part of UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme. The Germanic tribes are thought to date from the Pre-Roman Iron Age. From southern Scandinavia and north Germany, they expanded south and west from the 1st century BC, coming into contact with the Celtic tribes of Gaul as well
Federal Court of Justice
The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe is the highest court in the system of ordinary jurisdiction in Germany. It is the supreme court in all matters of private law. A decision handed down by the BGH can be reversed only by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany in the rare cases that the Constitutional Court rules on constitutionality. Before the Federal Court of Justice of Germany was created in its present form, Germany has had several prior highest courts: As early as 1495 there was the so-called Reichskammergericht, which existed until 1806; as from 1870, in the time of the North German Confederation, there was the Bundesoberhandelsgericht in Leipzig. In 1871, it was renamed to Reichsoberhandelsgericht and its area of responsibility was amplified as well; this court was unsoldered by the Reichsgericht at October 1, 1879, in Leipzig. On 1 October 1950, five years after the German Reich had collapsed, the Bundesgerichtshof —as it exists nowadays— was founded. Together with the Federal Administrative Court of Germany, the Federal Finance Court of Germany, the Federal Labor Court of Germany and the Federal Social Court of Germany, the Federal Court of Justice is one of the highest courts of Germany today, located in Karlsruhe and Leipzig.
The Federal Court of Justice of Germany is subdivided in twenty-five senates: Twelve are civil panels, five are the criminal panels and eight are special panels. The Federal Court of Justice is to develop the law, it just reconsiders the legal assessment of a case as a court of last resort. To that effect, it can be differentiated in the area of responsibility of the Federal Court of Justice: In civil law, it reconsiders decrees of the regional courts and of the regional appeal courts. In some special cases, it reconsiders first-instance decrees of the local courts and the regional courts, it can decide that an application for revision is improper the or that it is valid, when it decides the case. In criminal law, it has to decide about applications for revision against first-instance decrees of the regional courts the regional appeal courts, it has to decide. It can decide without a main trial. In any other case, it decides the legal remedy after a main trial, it decides the Vorlagesachen. If a regional appeal court plans to differ from a decision of another regional appeal court or a decision of the Federal Court of Justice, it has to inform the Federal Court of Justice, which decides the case and protects the unity of the jurisdiction.
Since 2000, its decisions have been published on its official website. Judges of the Federal Court of Justice are selected by an electoral committee, which consists of the Secretaries of Justice of the 16 German Bundesländer and of 16 representatives appointed by the German Federal Parliament. Once a judge has been chosen by this committee, he or she is appointed by the President of Germany. Only individuals who possess German citizenship within the meaning of Art. 116 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, who are formally qualified to serve as a judge in accordance with § 9 DRiG and are at minimum 35 years of age can be appointed as a Judge at the Federal Court of Justice. Horst Hagen Fritz Hauß Burkhard Jähnke Gerda Müller Joachim Wenzel In all civil cases heard by the Federal Court of Justice, the parties need to be represented by an attorney, admitted to the bar at the Federal Court of Justice; this admission is the only'special' admission within the German court system, in that an attorney at the Federal Court of Justice for civil cases cannot appear in any other court in the country.
Admission at the Bundesgerichtshof is selective. Candidates for admission are nominated by an electoral committee and are chosen and appointed by the Federal Ministry of Justice; the requirement for a representative admitted to the Federal Court of Justice does not apply in criminal cases. Here, representation by any lawyer admitted to the bar in Germany suffices. Brockhaus in drei Bänden. 2006. P. 839. ISBN 978-3-7653-1514-5. Meyers Großes Taschenlexikon in 24 Bänden. 2006. P. 1038. ISBN 978-3-411-10063-7. "The Federal Court of Justice". Karlsruhe, Leipzig: Federal Court of Justice of Germany. 2014. Official website
The Bundestag is the German federal parliament. It can be compared to the chamber of deputies along the lines of the United States House of Representatives or the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Through the Bundesrat, a separate institution, the individual states of Germany participate in legislation similar to a second house in a bicameral parliament; the Bundestag was established by article III of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949 as one of the legislative bodies of Germany and thus the historical successor to the earlier Reichstag. Since 1999 it has met in the Reichstag Building in Berlin. Wolfgang Schäuble is the current President of the Bundestag. Members of the Bundestag are elected every four years by all adult German citizens in a mixed system of constituency voting and list voting; the constitutional minimum number of seats is 598. The Election Day can be called earlier than four years after the last if the Federal Chancellor loses a vote of confidence and asks the Federal President to dissolve the Bundestag in order to hold new general elections.
In the 19th century, the name Bundestag was the unofficial designation for the assembly of the sovereigns and mayors of the Monarchies and Free Cities which formed the German Confederation. Its seat was in the Free City of Frankfurt on the Main. With the dissolution of the German Confederation in 1866 and the founding of the German Empire in 1871, the Reichstag was established as the German parliament in Berlin, the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia. Two decades the current parliament building was erected; the Reichstag delegates were elected by equal male suffrage. The Reichstag did not participate in the appointment of the Chancellor until the parliamentary reforms of October 1918. After the Revolution of November 1918 and the establishment of the Weimar Constitution, women were given the right to vote for the Reichstag, the parliament could use the no-confidence vote to force the chancellor or any cabinet member to resign. In March 1933, one month after the Reichstag fire, the President of the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, a retired war hero, gave Adolf Hitler ultimate power through the Decree for the Protection of People and State and the Enabling Act of 1933, although Hitler remained at the post of Federal Government Chancellor.
After this, the Reichstag met only usually at the Krolloper to unanimously rubber-stamp the decisions of the government. It last convened on 26 April 1942. With the new Constitution of 1949, the Bundestag was established as the new West German parliament; because West Berlin was not under the jurisdiction of the Constitution, a legacy of the Cold War, the Bundestag met in Bonn in several different buildings, including a former waterworks facility. In addition, owing to the city's legal status, citizens of West Berlin were unable to vote in elections to the Bundestag, were instead represented by 22 non-voting delegates chosen by the House of Representatives, the city's legislature; the Bundeshaus in Bonn is the former parliament building of Germany. The sessions of the German Bundestag were held there from 1949 until its move to Berlin in 1999. Today it houses the International Congress Centre Bundeshaus Bonn and in the northern areas the branch office of the Bundesrat, which represents the Länder – the federated states).
The southern areas became part of German offices for the United Nations in 2008. The former Reichstag building housed a history exhibition and served as a conference center; the Reichstag building was occasionally used as a venue for sittings of the Bundestag and its committees and the Bundesversammlung, the body which elects the German Federal President. However, the Soviets harshly protested against the use of the Reichstag building by institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany and tried to disturb the sittings by flying supersonic jets close to the building. Since April 19, 1999, the German parliament has again assembled in Berlin in its original Reichstag building, built in 1888 based on the plans of German architect Paul Wallot and underwent a significant renovation under the lead of British architect Lord Norman Foster. Parliamentary committees and subcommittees, public hearings and parliamentary group meetings take place in three auxiliary buildings, which surround the Reichstag building: the Jakob-Kaiser-Haus, Paul-Löbe-Haus and Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus.
In 2005, a small aircraft crashed close to the German Parliament. It was decided to ban private air traffic over Central Berlin. Together with the Bundesrat, the Bundestag is the legislative branch of the German political system. Although most legislation is initiated by the executive branch, the Bundestag considers the legislative function its most important responsibility, concentrating much of its energy on assessing and amending the government's legislative program; the committees play a prominent role in this process. Plenary sessions provide a forum for members to engage in public debate on legislative issues before them, but they tend to be well attended only when significant legislation is being considered; the Bundestag members are the only federal officials directly elected by the public.