Bavarian Senate

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The Senate Bell

The Bavarian Senate (German Bayerischer Senat) was the corporative upper chamber of Bavaria's parliamentary system from 1946 to 1999, when it was abolished by a popular vote (referendum) changing the constitution of this State of the German federation.


The 60 members of the Senate had to be 40 years of age and could not be a member of the Landtag (the other and more important chamber of the Bavarian parliament). Every other year, a third of the Senate's members would be elected by corporations representing social, economic, municipal or cultural groups or appointed by religious denominations for a term of six years. The number of seats representing each group was fixed by the constitution of Bavaria:

Internationally, the Senate's composition was similar to the Vocational Panels in the Irish senate. It also bore remnants of council-democratic ideas.


The Senate's main role was consulting other state institutions and delivering legal opinion. It also had the power to delay state legislation passed by the Landtag within a month (one week for urgent acts). However, the Landtag could overturn the veto by a simple majority, the same majority required to pass a law in the first place.

Criticism and dissolution[edit]

In the 1990s, public opinion in Germany turned towards leaner government. The Senate, due to being essentially powerless, was regarded by many as an unnecessary expenditure.

In June 1997, a popular initiative petition sponsored by the Ecological Democratic Party gained 927,047 signatures (10.5% of those entitled to vote). In the following referendum on 8 February 1998, which yielded a turnout of 39.9%, a majority of 69.2% voted for the law amending the State Constitution to abolish the Senate. A counter-proposal by the ruling Christian Social Union, which would have changed the composition of the Senate, only received 23.6%.

On 1 January 2000, the law abolishing the Senate came into effect.

Presidents of the Senate of Bavaria[edit]

Name Period
Josef Singer 1947–1967
Hippolyt Poschinger von Frauenau 1968–1982
Hans Weiß 1982–1993
Walter Schmitt Glaeser 1994–1996
Heribert Thallmair 1996–1999

See also[edit]

External links[edit]