The Land constitutions
in The Länder and German federalism

For almost forty years after the federal constitution went into effect, little attention was paid to state (Land) constitutions in Germany. At the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, this changed dramatically, for two major reasons. A scandal in Schleswig-Holstein in 1987 involving allegations that the prime minister had been guilty of a serious abuse of power (the Barschel/Pfeiffer affair) led to a thorough revision of that Land constitution, which included both far-reaching plebiscitary (direct democracy) features and provisions strengthening the parliament's control over the government (cabinet). The second cause of a strong interest in Land constitutions was the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the re-emergence of five Länder that had ceased to exist in 1952, and the unification of Germany in October 1990. This chapter discusses the Land constitutions in Germany, the Basic Law and the Länder, origins and legal framework of Land constitutions, and Land parliaments and legislation. It also examines Land executives, judiciaries and social institutions, as well as basic rights, social rights and state goals.

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