skip to content
skip to footer
Information System

Child and Youth Services in Germany

Bookmark Remove

Structural framework > State

Democracy

as the Federal Republic of Germany’s form of government
Article 20 (2) Basic Law: “All state authority is derived from the people. It shall be exercised by the people through elections and other votes and through specific legislative, executive and judicial bodies.”

as party pluralism
Article 21 (1) Basic Law: “Political parties shall participate in the formation of the political will of the people. They may be freely established. Their internal organisation must conform to democratic principles.”

… and civil society
Democracy is based on self-determination, participation in civil society and the power of the people to choose (participation rights, co-determination, civic initiatives).

… and democracy education
Young people in a democracy are entitled to democracy education. Not only do they have participation rights, but must also be helped and supported with carrying out activities of civic and political engagement. This is an interdisciplinary task of child and youth services in Germany.

Notes

Three aspects characterise Germany's democratic structures:

  1. The Federal Republic of Germany is a democratic state. In accordance with Article 20 (1) of the Basic Law [Grundgesetz/GG]), all state authority is derived from the people. A quintessential characteristic of this democracy is that parliament – the Bundestag – is chosen in general, direct, free, equal and secret elections. All German citizens aged 18 and over are eligible voters (right to vote). They can also be elected (right to stand for election) provided they have held German citizenship for at least one year. Bundestag elections must be held every four years.

    The parliaments of the 16 federal states work under a similar system. In some federal states, all German citizens aged 16 and over are eligible to vote.
     
  2. Party pluralism is another defining element of democracy.
    Article 21 of the Basic Law describes the status of political parties: "(1) Political parties shall participate in the formation of the political will of the people. They may be freely established. Their internal organisation must conform to democratic principles. They must publicly account for their assets and for the sources and use of their funds. (2) Parties that, by reason of their aims or the behaviour of their adherents, seek to undermine or abolish the free democratic basic order or to endanger the existence of the Federal Republic of Germany shall be unconstitutional. The Federal Constitutional Court shall rule on the question of unconstitutionality."
     
  3. However, democracy is not only about the state's institutional structure: it is also about political autonomy, participation in civil society and the power of the people to choose. Initiatives by young people, youth associations, youth self-representation groups, social movements and civic initiatives also contribute important democratic functions in civil society.

    Moreover, young people are entitled to democracy education. The federal government's 16th Child and Youth Report (2020) includes this right explicitly. According to the report, young people not only have participation rights, but must also be helped and supported with carrying out activities of civic and political engagement. Democracy education is an explicit mandate of child and youth work and an interdisciplinary task of child and youth services. 

Further reading
Bookmark List