Institutions of State
Alongside the functions of the State Government, Baden-Württemberg’s constitution also regulates the rights and obligations of the State Parliament, the State Court of Justice and the State Accounting Office. The division of power is focal to our democracy. As the representative of the people, the State Parliament is the legislative body. The State Court of Justice is Baden-Württemberg’s Constitutional Court. The State Accounting Office monitors the responsible use of tax payers’ money by public bodies.
State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg
The State Parliament is elected by the citizens of Baden-Württemberg. Once every five years, a democratic election is held to decide on the composition of the new Parliament. The Members of Parliament, according to the State Constitution, “represent the whole population”. In their decisions, they are “not tied to party lines and mandates and are bound only by their own conscience.”
Following the Parliamentary Elections held on March 13, 2016, the 16th State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg currently comprises a total of 143 members. Of these, 47 belong to Bündnis 90/The Green Party (with 30.3 per cent of the votes), 42 belong to the Christian Democratic Union CDU (27.0 per cent of the votes), 23 to the Alternative for Germany AfD (15.1 per cent), 19 to the Social Democratic Party SPD (12.7 per cent) and 12 to the Liberal Democratic Party / Democratic People’s party (8.3 per cent).
The most important task undertaken by the State Parliament is that of passing legislation for the State. The State Parliament holds the legislative power in the State. The only “sovereign” powers assigned to the State Parliament are its budgetary powers. The Members of the State Parliament elect the Minister President by a secret ballot. The State Parliament also monitors whether the State Government and its administration adhere to and implement the stipulations of the State Parliament. Every individual citizen of the State has the fundamental right to address requests or complaints – known as petitions – to the State Parliament.
Baden-Württemberg State Court of Justice
The State Court of Justice is Baden-Württemberg’s Constitutional Court. It is an independent and self-determining organ of the constitution. The State Court of Justice decides on matters of interpretation of the State Constitution and its decisions ensure that other organs of state adhere to the State Constitution.
The State Court of Justice in Stuttgart holds equal rights alongside the State Parliament and the State Government. Its decisions, some of which have legislative power, are binding on the other constitutional organs and on all the courts and authorities in the State. The State Court of Justice only on principle exercises decision-making powers in relation to disputes if these relate to the constitution of the State of Baden-Württemberg.
From April 1st, 2013, any citizen who considers their rights to be infringed by a State law or a decree passed by the State Government has the right to file a lawsuit directly with the State Court of Justice. The introduction of a State Constitutional Complaints Procedure provides increased protection for the Basic Law and represents an important step towards the creation of a truly civil society. Previously, any member of the public challenging sovereign acts of the State had no alternative but to refer to the Federal Constitutional Court.
Baden-Württemberg State Accounting Office
The State Accounting Office is responsible for controlling the state finances in Baden-Württemberg. It monitors the responsible appropriation of taxpayers’ money by public offices. The seven members of the State Accounting Office are independent.
The State Accounting Office in Karlsruhe reviews the overall budgetary and economic management of the State and reports to the State Parliament and the Government at least once a year. In performing this task, the State Accounting Office members themselves define which concrete aspects are audited. Auditing is not restricted to the State administration itself, but also extends to state-run corporations, legal entities under public law with direct State involvement and also the involvement of Government in corporations in which the State is a stakeholder. The State Accounting Office also has the right to audit entities outside of the State administration in order to police the proper use of allocated funding for its designated purpose.