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The German Basic Law, enacted in 1949 after total defeat and the experience of totalitarian barbarism, has become a model for constitutions around the world and a prominent example of modern constitutionalism.
It features five fundamental principles - democracy, rule of law/Rechtsstaat, the social state, republican government and federalism – each expressly guaranteed and protected against constitutional amendment. As such the German Basic Law is a prime example of a cooperative and predominantly executive federalism characterised by a high degree of unitarianism and equality of its member states.
The institutional structure, featuring the principle of the separation of powers, is a parliamentary system of government, in which the Chancellor and the political parties play leading roles.
The Bundestag remains a powerful Parliament, while the Bundesrat and the Prime Ministers of the Länder act as an important counterweight. The Constitutional Court, as interpreter of the Constitution and possessor of a broad range of competences, occupies an especially important position, acting as arbiter between the different Federal institutions as well as between the Federation and the Länder.
In the field of fundamental rights the Court has achieved far-reaching constitutionalization and juridification of the whole political system, while at the same time creating a strong and consistent system of individual freedom and the liberalization of society.