Introduction
in The Länder and German federalism

Germany, like most European states, has a well-established parliamentary system with the typical array of rights and liberties associated with all recognised, functioning democracies. Germany is a federation. Even the most unobservant foreigner knows that Bavaria is somehow separate and distinct from other regions of Germany, and he or she may even be aware of the existence of the fifteen other states (Länder) which constitute the country. A systematic comparison of German federalism with other federal states is not the purpose of this book, but the many unique features of this system will become apparent to any reader with some knowledge of or background in comparative politics and institutions of government. The book presents in some depth the major features of German federalism, including its origins and development, especially since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949. It examines the German model of federalism, which has been the subject of much admiration as well as criticism, depending on one's understanding of federalism and the expectations one has from that understanding.

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