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A Landtag (English: State Diet) is a representative assembly or parliament in German-speaking countries with legislative authority and competence over a Land (state). Often these assemblies are the legislative bodies for the federated states of a country, such in Austria and Germany where they serve as state legislatures for the individual Länder, and have authority to legislate in non-federal matters for the regional area.
- 1 Name
- 2 Ancient Landtag
- 3 Modern legislatures
- 4 Sources and references
- 5 See also
The German word Landtag is composed of the words Land (English: state, country or territory), which is short for Bundesland (eng. federal state), and Tag, which is the shortening of the German word Tagung (English: meeting). The German word Tagung is derived from the German word Tag (eng. day) because such meetings were held at daylight and sometimes spanned over several days. The English word diet (German: Tag, Tagung) likewise comes from the Latin word dies (English: day).
Holy Roman Empire
In feudal society, the formal class system was reflected in the composition of the state's 'representative' assembly (The States ("Landstände")), regardless of its name well described as estates: it was not intended as an elected reflection of public opinion, but a fixed expression of established power as recognized in formal privileges, including the right to be seated in person (granted to many aristocrats and prelates, as well as certain cities) or to be represented as elector in a college that is entitled to one or more seats. In some of the German states that were known as Land, the name of such estates assembly was Landtag, analogous to the Reichstag, or Imperial Diet, mainly comprising most of the princes of the Church and hereditary states plus the Imperial Cities. The precise composition obviously varied greatly, and could change over time, as the result of privileges granted or lost, entities split or merged, border changes et cetera.
As Austria and Prussia escaped the French 'exporting the revolution', and Napoleon was happy to maintain satellite monarchies in most German territories under his control (members of the Confederation of the Rhine), the more democratic principles of the Enlightenment would have less effect in the German-speaking lands, or only much later.
1806 the German Confederation ("Deutscher Bund") was founded as successor of the Holy Roman Empire. § 13 of the "Bundesakte" (the constitution of the German Confederation) forced the German states to pass constitutions and implement parliaments called Landstände or Landtag.
1871 the German Empire was founded. All 25 states of the German Empire and the "Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen" (since 1911) had Landtage as legislative authorities. The most important one was the Prussian Landtag.
In the Weimar Republic 1918 till 1933 all German states had Landtage. In difference to the former Landstände and Landtage the Weimar Republik Landtage have been elected in free an equal elections.
1933 the Nazis abandoned the federal structure of the Weimar Republic and established a unitary state. The Landtage were abolished as a result.
The parliament of Finland, which was created when the country was ceded from Sweden to Russia in 1809, was called lantdag (Swedish for Landtag) until 1919, when Finland adopted its first constitution as an independent country (independence was declared in 1917). Since then, the official term in Swedish is riksdag, equivalent of the German Reichstag. The Finnish name is eduskunta.
The first Landtag of Livonian Confederation was called by archbishop of Rīga Johannes Ambundii in 1419 and continued on regular basis till the incorporation of Livonian lands in Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Sweden and Denmark in 1561. Separate landtags of Livonia, Courland and Estonia continued to exist as legislative authorities of Duchies of Livonia, Estonia[disambiguation needed], Courland and Semigallia, later Russian Empire Governorates of Livonia, Estonia and Courland.
In the contemporary Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of Austria and the Italian Republic's province of South Tyrol (with a German-speaking majority), a Landtag is a unicameral legislature for a constitutive federal state (Bundesland). In the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Landtag is the sole national parliament, because Liechtenstein has no federal structure due to its size.
In most of the German constitutive federal states (Bundesländer), the unicameral legislature is called Landtag:
- Landtag of Baden-Württemberg
- Landtag of Bavaria (until 1999, the large federal state of Bavaria was the only state with a bicameral legislature, with a lower house called the Landtag, and an upper house called the Senate)
- Landtag of Brandenburg
- Landtag of Hesse
- Landtag of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
- Landtag of Lower Saxony
- Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia
- Landtag of Rhineland-Palatinate
- Landtag of Saarland
- Landtag of Saxony
- Landtag of Saxony-Anhalt
- Landtag of Schleswig-Holstein
- Landtag of Thuringia
In the German city states, the parliamentary city council serves the function of the state parliament within the federal system - in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg it is called the Bürgerschaft (short for Stadtbürgerschaft, municipal assembly):
In the German capital and city state of Berlin, the legislature since 1951 (then of West Berlin) is called Abgeordnetenhaus ("House of Representatives"), adopting the tradition of the Prussian Landtag.
According to the Constitution of Austria, the Landtage are the unicameral legislatures of the nine states of Austria (Bundesländer), dealing with all matters not explicitely allotted to federal level:
- Landtag of Burgenland
- Landtag of Carinthia
- Landtag of Lower Austria
- Landtag of Upper Austria
- Landtag of Salzburg
- Landtag of Styria
- Landtag of Tyrol
- Landtag of Vorarlberg
The representatives are elected in general, free, secret and direct ballots according to the principle of proportional representation. The largest of the parliamentary groups (called Klubs in Austria) usually nominates the Landeshauptmann governor. The modern Landtage are the democratic successors of the estates assemblies in the corresponding crown lands of the Austrian Empire. Exceptions are the city of Vienna, which belonged to the Lower Austria Kronland until 1920, and Burgenland, ceded to Austria by the Kingdom of Hungary in 1921.
Austria's national bicameral parliament consists of the directly elected National Council and the Federal Council, which represents the Landtage parliaments on federal level. The two chambers meet in the Federal Convention, held for the ceremonial swearing-in of the Austrian president.
In the Sovereign principality of Liechtenstein the national parliament is called the Landtag of Liechtenstein.
Sources and references
- Donaumonarchie (German)