Intergovernmental Relations in German Federalism – joint decision-making and the dynamics of horizontal cooperation

Intergovernmental Relations in German Federalism – joint decision-making and the dynamics of horizontal cooperation

In a comparative perspective, Germany has been often regarded as a typical example of a cooperative federalism. However, scholars usually have emphasized the vertical dimension of intergovernmental relations. Accordingly, the “interlocking relationship of the federal and the state governments” (Watts, 2008: 35) has been considered as the characteristic feature of German federalism.
In fact, what is known as “Politikverflechtung” (interlocking politics or joint decision-making; Scharpf, 1997: 143-145) in Germany mainly relates to federal-Land-relations. They emerged in a constitutional framework, where the division of competences does not relate to distinguishable policies, but interdependent state functions. Most legislative powers are centralized, whereas powers to implement federal law are mostly allocated to the Land governments. Consequently, federal government requires expertise from the Land administration when designing a law, and Land governments affected in their administrative competences by federal legislation have a stake in this process.