[JURIST Europe] German Chancellor Angela Merkel [official profile in German; BBC profile] announced [recorded audio, in German] Monday that her cabinet had approved a new bill to jump-start the biggest constitutional reform in Germany since 1949. The bill is meant to undo the entanglement of federal and state governments that was created after World War II as a check on central power and to speed up the political decision-making process. Because Germany’s current government is a coalition of the country’s top two parties – Merkel’s Christian Democrats [official website] and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) [official website in German; Wikipedia backgrounder] – a consensus on reform has become possible, and it's seen as a test for Merkel’s 'grand coalition' government.
The system currently in place permits state governments to block nearly 60 percent of federal legislation. If ratified, the bill would cut the number of laws that can be vetoed by the Bundesrat [official website], the upper house of the German parliament where German states are represented, and clarify a separation of powers between federal and state governments. A two-thirds majority in both houses will have to approve the proposal. Reuters has more. The German federal government has posted a backgrounder on the constitutional reform process.
Tatyana Margolin is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.