Martin Brunner, Marc Debus
Between Programmatic Interests and Party Politics: The German Bundesrat in the Legislative Process

German Politics, 2008: 17, issue 3, p. 232-251

Legislation in Germany is dominated by three central actors: Government, Bundestag (first chamber), and Bundesrat (second chamber). While the role of the Bundesrat as initiator of laws is disregarded in most research on legislation in Germany, it will be at the centre of this article, which analyses the factors determining the success of Bundesrat bills. We focus on the question whether the actors’ policy position or party strategic considerations are decisive for, first, the success of a bill inside the Bundesrat and, second, in the whole legislative process. Policy positions of the parties at the federal and the state level are extracted from party manifestos using the wordscores method. Our results show that programmatic positions are relevant to win a majority in the Bundesrat. However, the overall success depends more on whether the initiator belongs to the government or opposition camp at the federal level.