Federal parliament has two chambers
The federal parliament has two chambers. The lower chamber (Bundestag) is
elected by the population for a four-year term. Its seats are allocated on a
system of proportional representation. The government is formed by the party
or coalition (in practice, invariably a coalition) with a majority of the seats. The
remaining parties represented in the Bundestag form, collectively, the
opposition. The upper chamber (Bundesrat) is made up of members delegated
by the parliaments of the individual provinces with votes in rough proportion to
the size of their populations. The party allegiances of its members reflect the
identity of the governing party or coalition in each province.
Most acts of parliament are initially proposed and debated in the Bundestag.
The Bundesrat does have certain rights to propose, or to propose changes to,
bills, although its primary function is to safeguard the interests of the provinces
against acts of expropriation by the federation. Since all laws affecting the
interests of the provinces are subject to its approval, very few laws of national
importance can be passed by the Bundestag without the support of the majority
of the Bundesrat. This division of political functions and responsibilities
encourages a spirit of compromise on all major political issues.