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The Saarland
 

Politics and administration

State parliament

State parliament of the Saarland

According to Article 61 of the Saarland constitution, all state authority is derived from the people. The state parliament is the chosen forum for representation of the people. It exercises legislative power unless this is reserved for the people themselves under the constitution. In addition, the state parliament is also responsible for oversight of the executive. In Saarland all German citizens within the meaning of Article 116 of the Basic Law (constitution) who have reached the age of eighteen on the date of an election are entitled to vote unless they are excluded from taking part in elections. The Saarland state parliament is elected for five years. The members of Saarland's state parliament can form parliamentary parties. The minimum number of members of parliament required to form a party is two. The presidium makes decisions regarding the state parliament's internal affairs, including in particular the drafting of the state parliament's budget, unless such matters are exclusively reserved for the President. The President directs the state parliament's business, and he/she controls the right of admission to the state parliament and upholds the law within it. Also affiliated to the state parliament is the State Data Protection and Freedom of Information Officer. 

Current distribution of seats:
As a result of the state elections of 26th March 2017, four parties are represented in the state parliament of Saarland: the CDU with 24 MPs, the SPD grouping with 17, the 'Linke' party with 7, and the AfD with three.


Constitution and administration

The first constitution under French stewardship

It was under French occupation after the Second World War that Saarland received its first democratically approved constitution on 15th December 1947. Written into the "Preamble" was the economic annexation to France implemented by France together with separation from Germany and limited political autonomy. However, only pro-French parties were permitted. Nevertheless, Saarland politics was fundamentally changed by the rejection of the "European status of Saarland" in the referendum of 23rd October 1955 and in the fresh elections called as a result which gave the pro-German parties a clear majority.

1957 adaptation to the Basic Law

The constitution was accordingly adapted to the provisions of the Basic Law with effect from 1st January 1957 so that Saarland was able to join the Federal Republic of Germany as its tenth federal state.

State administration without government committees

According to the state constitution, the ministers form the apex of the state administration as the most senior administrative authorities. The lower level of the state administration comprises the respective district chief executive at rural district level, or the head of the Saarbrücken regional authority. Mayors undertake state duties at local level. In addition, special administrative tasks are carried out by state authorities.


Coat of arms

Coat of arms

The Saarland state parliament adopted the Saarland coat of arms on 6th July 1956. It shows a half-round shield with four sections. The gold-crowned silver lion on a blue background studded with silver crosses stands for the dominion of the princes of Nassau-Saarbrücken. The red, silver-edged barred cross symbolises the Electorate of Trier. The red diagonal bar containing three cropped eagles stands for the Duchy of Lothringen, and the red-crowned golden lion with red claws and tongue on a black background stands for the Duchy of Pfalz-Zweibrücken. These four territorial lordships were the most important of a total of 15 territories in the area that is now Saarland which owed fealty directly to the Emperor in the period before the French revolution.


Constitutional Court

According to the Saarland constitution of 15/12/1947, Saarland's Constitutional Court is the third organisation embodying the "will of the people" alongside the Saarland state parliament and the state government. It is responsible for the definitive interpretation of the Saarland constitution arising from disputes under constitutional law as specified in Article 97 of the Saarland Constitution and § 9 of the Law Relating to the Constitutional Court.