The Imperial Senate is the bicameral legislature of the German Empire. It has two houses, the Federal Council, appointed and dismissed by the Emperor, and the Imperial Body of Delegates, elected from the provinces. The Senate is the supreme legislative body.


Privilege of carrying on trade in more than one place; domestic affairs and matters relating to the settlement of natives of one State in the territory of another; the right of citizenship; the issue and examination of passports; surveillance of foreigners and of manufactures; insurance business (in Bavaria, however, exclude of domestic affairs, and matters relating to the settlement of one State in the territory of another); and likewise matters relating to colonization and emigration to foreign countries.

Legislation concerning customs, duties, and commerce, and such imports as are to be applied to the uses of the Empire.

Regulation of weights and measures, and of the coinage, together with the emission of funded and unfunded paper money.

Banking regulations in general. Patents for inventions.

The protection of literary property.

The organisation of a general system of protection for German trade in foreign countries; of German navigation, and of the German flag on the high seas; likewise the organisation of a general consular representation of the Empire.

Railway matters (subject in Bavaria to their choice) and the construction of means of communication by land and water for the purposes of home defense, and of general commerce.

Rafting and navigation upon those waters which are common to several States, and the condition of such waters, as likewise river and other water dues.

Postal and telegraph affairs; but in Bavaria and Württemberg these shall be subject to them. Regulations concerning the execution of judicial sentences in civil matters, in the fulfillment of requisition of general.

The authentication of public documents.

General legislation with respect to the whole domain of civil law, criminal law; likewise legal procedure.

The Imperial Armed Forces.

The surveillance of the medical and veterinary professions.

The Press, trades' unions, colonial affairs, foreign affairs, apporval of treaties and ambassdors, etc.


Parliamentary groupsEdit

The most important organizational structures within the Senate are parliamentary groups, which are formed by political parties represented in the chamber which have gained more than 5% of the total votes; CDU and CSU have always formed a single united fraction. The size of a party's fraction determines the extent of its representation on legislative committees, the time slots allotted for speaking, the number of committee chairs it can hold, and its representation in executive bodies of the Senate. The fraction, not the members, receive the bulk of government funding for legislative and administrative activities.

The leadership of each fraction consists of a parliamentary party leader, several deputy leaders, and an executive committee. The leadership's major responsibilities are to represent the fraction, enforce party discipline, and orchestrate the party's parliamentary activities. The members of each fraction are distributed among working groups focused on specific policy-related topics such as social policy, economics, and foreign policy. The fraction meets every Tuesday afternoon in the weeks in which the Senate is in session to consider legislation before the Senate and formulate the party's position on it.

Parties which do not fulfill the criterion for being a fraction but have at least three seats by direct elections (i.e. which have at least three DM representing a certain electoral district) in the Senate can be granted the status of a group of the Senate. This applied to the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) from 1990-1998. This status entails some privileges which are in general less than those of a fraction. In the current Senate, there are no such groups (the PDS had only two MPs in parliament until 2005 and could thus not even considered a group anymore; the party has now returned to the Senate with full fraction status).

Executive bodiesEdit

The Senate's executive bodies include the Council of Politicans and the Body of Leading Delegates. The council consists of the Senate leadership, together with the most senior representatives of each fraction, with the number of these representatives tied to the strength of the party in the chamber. The council is the coordination hub, determining the daily legislative agenda and assigning committee chairpersons based on party representation. The council also serves as an important forum for interparty negotiations on specific legislation and procedural issues. The Body is responsible for the routine administration of the Senate, including its clerical and research activities. It consists of the Senate's president (usually elected from the largest fraction) and vice presidents (one from each fraction).


Most of the legislative work in the Senate is the product of standing committees, which exist largely unchanged throughout one legislative period. The number of committees approximates the number of imperial ministries, and the titles of each are roughly similar (e.g., defense, agriculture, and labor). Between 1987 and 1990, the term of the over one hundredth Senate, there were twenty-one standing committees. The distribution of committee chairs and the membership of each committee reflect the relative strength of the various parties in the chamber. In this Senate, the CDU/CSU chaired eleven committees, the SPD eight, the FDP one, and the environmentalist party, the Greens (Die Grünen), one. Members of the opposition party can chair a significant number of standing committees. These committees have either a small staff or no staff at all.


Members of the Council are chosen by the Emperor of the German Empire and will be dismissed by him at his will. The Chancellor also has a say in Council appointments. The members of the Body of Delegates are elected to a five year terms or when dismissed by the Emperor.

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