This volume introduces a new series entitled "How They're Governed". Directed by Carlo Fusaro, the series aims to explore the political and institutional culture of different countries in order to understand how they're governed and organised. The entries will be written by experts in comparative constitutional law and adopt an interdisciplinary approach. The series is intended for: students and scholars eager to develop their knowledge about a specific country; people who for professional reasons have relationships with foreign countries and need to be familiar with their institutional arrangements; curious travellers; anyone concerned about democracy and its future. Each volume will share the same basic structure: a concise geographical and economic overview; elements of history, especially as regards the development of the constitution; political context since the end of World War II; power distribution (who does what and who decides); acknowledged rights and freedoms and the corresponding safeguards; essential readings and useful websites. After having been at the heart of two world wars in the 20th century, defeated Germany - in accordance with the will of Western allies - has given itself an institutional arrangement which has proved to be solid, stable and especially respectful of human rights. Over time, it has become a crucial reference point for Europe. The federal Basic Law of 1949, amended along the way, has become - since Germany's reunification in 1990 - the Constitution of the European Union's largest and most populated country. A federal state par excellence, endowed with a relatively small central public bureaucracy, Germany's original institutions are being tested by an increasingly conflict-ridden political system. This book, written by two constitutional scholars from Italy and Germany who have worked together for years, helps the reader to understand how Germany has operated until now and what its future may bring.
Francesco Palermo teaches Comparative Public Law at the University of Verona. Jens Woelk teaches Comparative Constitutional Law at the University of Trento.