Decision on the Capital of Germany

The capital decision (German: Hauptstadtbeschluss) was the decision made by the German Bundestag on 20 June 1991, as a result of German reunification, to move its headquarters from Bonn to Berlin. The term is misleading, since Berlin had already become the federal capital of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990 as one of the stipulations of the Unification Treaty.[1]

Decision and implementation edit

Background and vote edit

A sticker supporting Bonn as the seat of government. The text reads: "Bonn has it! Berlin remains Berlin and Bonn remains the seat of government. Stop the game of billions [of DM]. Stop the relocation madness."

With the reunification of Germany, the newly reunified Berlin became Germany's capital once again, a status it had held from 1871 to 1945. However, the seat of government remained in Bonn, which had been the "provisional" capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990. There was some sentiment in favour of keeping the seat of government in Bonn, which would have created a situation analogous to that of the Netherlands, where Amsterdam is the capital but The Hague is the seat of government. Not only were there concerns about Berlin's past connection to Nazi Germany, but Bonn was closer to Brussels, headquarters of the European Communities. Bonn was also located in Germany's wealthiest and most densely-populated region, while the former East German states surrounding Berlin were economically depressed and relatively sparsely populated.

The proposal "Completion of the Unity of Germany", with the content of establishing the future seat of government in Berlin, had been formulated and introduced by prominent members of parliament across party lines. These included members of the SPD (Willy Brandt, Hans-Jochen Vogel, Wolfgang Thierse), the FDP (Burkhard Hirsch, Hermann Otto Solms, Rainer Ortleb), the CDU/CSU (Günther Krause, Wolfgang Schäuble, Oscar Schneider) and Alliance 90 (Wolfgang Ullmann).

After more than ten hours of discussion, the Bundestag voted 338 to 320 to pass the bill "Vollendung der Einheit Deutschlands" (English: completion of the unification of Germany). Due to an initial error, the initial count stood at 337 to 320, but the number of yes votes was later determined to be 338. The vote broke largely along regional lines, with legislators from the south and west favouring Bonn and legislators from the north and east voting for Berlin.[2][3] Of the 328 directly elected deputies, 169 voted for Bonn and 153 for Berlin. Of the deputies elected via the regional lists, 185 were for Berlin and 151 for Bonn. The vote also broke along generational lines; older legislators with memories of Berlin's past glory favoured Berlin, while younger legislators favoured Bonn. Ultimately, the votes of the eastern German legislators tipped the balance in favour of Berlin.[4]

Voting behaviour of the members of parliament elected in the constituencies in the Bundestag elections on 20 June 1991:
 for Berlin (153)
 for Bonn (169)
 no participation or replacement by successors (6)
Voting behaviour by party affiliation[5]
Party for Berlin for Bonn
Votes Percent Votes Percent
CDU 146 54.1 124 45.9
CSU 8 16.7 40 83.3
SPD 110 46.6 126 53.4
FDP 53 67.1 26 32.9
Bü90 4 66.7 2 33.3
PDS 17 94.5 1 5.5
Independent 0 0 1 100
Sum 338 51.5 320 48.5

Implementation edit

As a result of this decision, many subsequent motions were passed at different levels of government to ease the transition of the German capital to Berlin. To guarantee "fair division of labour" between the cities, it was decided to move the following government offices to Berlin, whilst retaining a secondary, smaller office in Bonn:

The following federal ministries were to remain in Bonn, each with a second office in Berlin:

The Berlin-Bonn Act was passed in 1994. Originally, the federal ministries' move to Berlin was planned for 1995, however this deadline was not adhered to. Instead a Cabinet decision was made that the move should be completed by 2000, on a budget of no more than 20 billion DM (10.2 billion EUR).

During this period other fundamental decisions were made, including:

  • the Reichstag building is the permanent seat of the Bundestag
  • the majority of the federal ministries will move to Berlin
  • the majority of ministerial jobs will remain in Bonn
  • each federal minister in Bonn and Berlin will have a second seat in the other city
  • the Federal President has his office in Berlin

Berlin officially adopted its full role as the home of the parliament and government of the Federal Republic of Germany in July 1999.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Art. 2 Abs. 1 EV
  2. ^ "Nationalatlas aktuell", "Hauptstadtbeschluss" by Sebastian Lentz, "Published 17 Juni 2011". Retrieved 9-20-12.
  3. ^ Laux, Hans-Dieter, "Berlin oder Bonn? Geographische Aspekte eine Parlamentsentscheidung", "Geographische Rundschau", 43:12, 740–743, 1991.
  4. ^ Thompson, Wayne C. (2008). The World Today Series: Nordic, Central and Southeastern Europe 2008. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia: Stryker-Post Publications. ISBN 978-1-887985-95-6.
  5. ^ Lehmann, Hans Georg (11 May 2011). "Infografik: Abstimmung vom 20. Juni 1991". Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. Retrieved 6 May 2017.

Literature edit

  • Andreas Salz: Bonn-Berlin. Die Debatte um Parlaments- und Regierungssitz im Deutschen Bundestag und die Folgen. Monsenstein und Vannerdat, Münster 2006, ISBN 3-86582-342-4 (zugleich: Bonn, Univ., Magisterarbeit).