Politics of Berlin

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The Bundestag in Berlin.

Berlin is a city-state and the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. The President of Germany, whose functions are primarily ceremonial under the German constitution, has his official residence in Schloss Bellevue.[1] Berlin is the seat of the German executive, housed in the Chancellery (the Bundeskanzleramt). Facing the Chancellery is the Bundestag, the German Parliament, housed in the renovated Reichstag building since the government's move to Berlin in 1998. The Bundesrat ("federal council", functioning as an upper house) represents the Federal States (Bundesländer) of Germany and has its seat at the former Prussian House of Lords.

Capital city[edit]

The Bundeskanzleramt

Berlin is the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. The President of Germany, whose functions are mainly ceremonial under the German constitution, has his official residence in Schloss Bellevue.[1] Berlin is the seat of the German executive, housed in the Chancellery, the Bundeskanzleramt.

Facing the Chancellery is the Bundestag, the German Parliament, housed in the renovated Reichstag building since the government moved back to Berlin in 1998. The Bundesrat ("federal council", performing the function of an upper house) is the representation of the Federal States (Bundesländer) of Germany and has its seat at the former Prussian House of Lords.


The relocation of the federal government and Bundestag to Berlin was completed in 1999, however with some ministries as well as some minor departments retained in the federal city Bonn, the former capital of West Germany. Discussions to move the remaining branches continue.[2] The ministries and departments of Defence, Justice and Consumer Protection, Finance, Interior, Foreign, Economic Affairs and Energy, Labour and Social Affairs , Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Food and Agriculture, Economic Cooperation and Development, Health, Transport and Digital Infrastructure and Education and Research are based in the capital.


Rotes Rathaus, seat of the Berlin Senate

Since German reunification on 3 October 1990, Berlin has been one of three city-states (with Hamburg and Bremen) among Germany's 16 states. The city and state parliament is the House of Representatives, (Abgeordnetenhaus), with 141 seats. Berlin's executive body is the Senate of Berlin (Senat von Berlin). The Senate consists of the Governing Mayor (Regierender Bürgermeister) and up to eight senators with ministerial positions (one holding the official title "Mayor" (Bürgermeister) as deputy to the Governing Mayor). The Social Democratic Party (SPD) and The Left (Die Linke) took control of the city government after the 2001 state election, winning another term in the 2006 state election.[3] The 2011 state election produced a coalition of the Social Democratic Party and the Christian Democratic Union.

The Governing Mayor is Lord Mayor of the city (Oberbürgermeister der Stadt) and Prime Minister of the federal state (Ministerpräsident des Bundeslandes). The office of Berlin's Governing Mayor is in the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall). From 2001 to 2014, this office was held by Klaus Wowereit of the SPD.[4] It is currently held by Michael Müller, also of the SPD.

The total annual state budget of Berlin in 2007 exceeded €20.5 ($28.7) billion, which included a budget surplus of €80 ($112) million (the first surplus in the city-state's history).[5] Due to increasing growth rates and tax revenues, the Senate of Berlin calculated an increasing budget surplus for 2008. The total budget was an estimated amount €5.5 ($7.7) billion, financed by the German government or the German Bundesländer.[6] Primarily due to reunification-related expenditures, Berlin as a German state accumulated more debt than any other city in Germany (an estimated €60 ($84) billion in December 2007).[7]

2016 Election[edit]

The Abgeordnetenhaus of Berlin is the city state parliament
Dominating parties after the 2016 election
e • d Summary of the 18 September 2016 Abgeordnetenhaus of Berlin elections results
< 2011  Flag of Berlin.svg  Next >
Party Popular vote Seats
Votes % +/– Seats +/–
Social Democratic Party of Germany
Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands – SPD
352,369 21.6 Decrease6.7 38 Decrease10
Christian Democratic Union
Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands – CDU
288,002 17.6 Decrease5.8 31 Decrease8
The Left
Die Linke
255,740 15.6 Increase4.0 27 Increase7
Alliance '90/The Greens
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen
248,243 15.2 Decrease2.4 27 Decrease3
Alternative for Germany
Alternative für Deutschland – AfD
231,325 14.2 Increase14.2 25 Increase25
Free Democratic Party
Freie Demokratische Partei – FDP
109,431 6.7 Increase4.9 12 Increase12
Die PARTEI 31,908 2.0 Increase1.1
Animal Protection Party 30,565 1.9 Increase0.4
Pirate Party 28,321 1.7 Decrease7.2 Decrease15
Graue Panther (de) 18,135 1.1 Increase1.1
Other parties 40,717 2.4
Valid votes 1,634,756 98.5% Increase0.1
Invalid votes 25,690 1.5% Decrease0.1
Totals and voter turnout 1,662,598 66.9% Increase6.7 160 Steady
Electorate 2,485,363 100.00


Multicoloured map of Berlin's boroughs and subdivisions
Map of Berlin's twelve boroughs

Berlin is divided into twelve boroughs (Bezirke), reduced from 23 boroughs before Berlin's 2001 administrative reform. Each borough has a number of localities (Ortsteile), which often have historic roots in older municipalities predating the formation of Greater Berlin on 1 October 1920 and were urbanised and incorporated into the city. Many residents strongly identify with their localities (or boroughs). Berlin has 96 localities, commonly made up of several city neighbourhoods (known as Kiez in the Berlin dialect).

Each borough is governed by a council (Bezirksamt) with five councillors (Bezirksstadträte) and a borough mayor (Bezirksbürgermeister). The borough council is elected by the borough assembly (Bezirksverordnetenversammlung). The boroughs of Berlin are not independent municipalities; the borough governments' power is limited, and subordinate to the Berlin Senate. The borough mayors form a council of mayors (Rat der Bürgermeister, led by the city's governing mayor), which advises the Senate. The localities have no local government bodies, and the administrative duties of the former locality representative (the Ortsvorsteher) were assumed by the borough mayors.

Sister cities[edit]

Western Union telegram
Los Angeles became the first sister city to Berlin in 1967.

Berlin maintains official partnerships with 17 cities.[9] Town twinning between Berlin and other cities began with Los Angeles in 1967. East Berlin's partnerships were cancelled at German reunification, but later partially reestablished. West Berlin's partnerships were limited to the borough level. During the Cold War the partnerships reflected spheres of influence, with West Berlin partnering with Western capitals and East Berlin partnering primarily with cities of the Warsaw Pact and its allies.

There are joint projects with a number of other cities, such as Belgrade, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Seoul, Sofia, Sydney and Vienna. Berlin participates in international city associations such as the Union of the Capitals of the European Union, Eurocities, Network of European Cities of Culture, Metropolis, Summit Conference of the World's Major Cities, Conference of the World's Capital Cities. Its sister cities are:[9]


Berlin Police[edit]

A police bus in blue-silver livery

The Berlin Police (Der Polizeipräsident in Berlin' - The Police Chief of Berlin), or commonly Berliner Polizei is the German Landespolizei force for the city-state of Berlin. Law enforcement in Germany is divided between federal and state (Land) agencies. Berlin Police is divided into 6 local directorates (Direktion). Each local directorate is responsible for one to three Berliner districts:

Federal Police[edit]

The Federal Police (Bundespolizei or BPOL) is a (primarily) uniformed federal police force in Berlin and Germany. It is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of the Interior (Bundesministerium des Innern (BMI)).[17]

The Bundespolizei can also be used to reinforce state police if requested by a state (Land) government. The BPOL maintains these reserve forces to deal with major demonstrations, disturbances or emergencies, supplementing the capabilities of the State Operational Support Units. Several highly trained detachments are available for crisis situations requiring armored cars, water cannon or other special equipment.

BPOL has investigators conduct criminal investigations only within its jurisdiction; otherwise the cases are referred to the appropriate state police force or to the federal criminal investigative agency, the Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA). In addition, the Bundespolizei cooperates closely with German state executive authorities, such as prosecutor's offices (Staatsanwaltschaft) in pursuing criminal investigations.

A Eurocopter EC-135 of the Bundespolizei

The Bundespolizei has the following missions:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Bundespräsident Horst Köhler" (in German). Bundespraesident.de. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "Der Regierungsumzug ist überfällig". Berliner Zeitung (in German). 26 October 2010. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  3. ^ "Berlin state election, 2006" (PDF). Der Landeswahlleiter für Berlin (in German). Retrieved 17 August 2008. 
  4. ^ "The Glamor Guy". Time Europe. 8 May 2005. Retrieved 17 August 2008.  See also: Landler, Mark (23 September 2006). "Berlin Mayor, Symbol of Openness, Has National Appeal". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 August 2008. 
  5. ^ "Berlin schafft erstes Etatplus seit dem Krieg". Spiegel.de. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Fahrun, Joachim (10 June 2008). "Sarrazin: Keine neuen Schulden mehr ab 2008". Berliner Morgenpost. Retrieved 17 August 2008. 
  7. ^ "Debt-Laden Berlin Goes to Court For Federal Aid". Deutsche Welle. 29 April 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2006. 
  8. ^ "Vorläufiges Ergebnis Berlin Wahl zum Landtag von Mecklenburg-Vorpommern am 18. September 2016" (in German). 18 September 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "Berlin's international city relations". Berlin Mayor's Office. Archived from the original on 8 September 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  10. ^ "Miasta partnerskie Warszawy". um.warszawa.pl. Biuro Promocji Miasta. 4 May 2005. Retrieved 29 August 2008. 
  11. ^ (in German) Polizeidirektion 1 Archived January 16, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ (in German) Polizeidirektion 2 Archived January 21, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ (in German) Polizeidirektion 3 Archived January 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ (in German) Polizeidirektion 4 Archived January 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ (in German) Polizeidirektion 5 Archived January 16, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ (in German) Polizeidirektion 6 Archived January 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ OSCE Entry on BPOL Archived 24 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine.