Pursuant to Section 2 of the Law on Political Parties, parties are associations of citizens which set out to exert influence either permanently or for longer periods of time on the formation of the political will at federal or Land level and participate in the representation of the people in the German Bundestag or a Land parliament, provided that they offer sufficient guarantee of the sincerity of their aims in the general character of their circumstances and attendant conditions, particularly with regard to the size and strength of their organization, the number of inscribed members and their conduct in public. Their internal organization must be in line with democratic principles. Only natural persons may be members of a party.
Political parties are freely established associations of persons. Generally, they are organised as associations without legal capacity on the basis of civil law and in keeping with the legal provisions governing associations contained in the Civil Code. For a political party to be founded as an association with legal capacity, that party additionally has to be entered in the Register of Associations. More detailed information on the subject is provided by the Registration Courts.
An association shall lose its legal status as a party if for a period of six years it has failed to participate in either a Bundestag election or an election to a Land parliament with a list of candidates of its own.
Political associations are not deemed to be parties if the majority of their members or the majority of their executive committee members are aliens or if their headquarters or registered seats of business are located outside the purview of the Law on Political Parties.
Pursuant to Section 6 (3) of the Law on Political Parties, the executive committee of a party must inform the Federal Returning Officer of the party’s statutes and program, the names of the party’s executive committee members and the regional branches, stating their duties, the dissolution of the party or of a regional branch. For the parties and political associations which have filed party documents with the Federal Returning Officer please refer to our website. The filing of the documents does not, however, automatically entail the recognition of the association as a political party or establish any right of admission to elections.
Prior to every Bundestag election, the Federal Electoral Committee shall establish, for all electoral bodies and not later than the 79th day before the election, which political associations shall be recognized as parties because only parties may submit Land lists for Bundestag elections.
The party privilege laid down in Article 21 of the Basic Law protects political parties as regards their existence and their activities; parties may be prohibited only by the Federal Constitutional Court.
Article 21 of the Basic Law (GG)
Sections 2, 6 of the Law on Political Parties (PartG)
Section 18 (4) no. 2 of the Federal Elections Act (BWG)
Last update: 1 October 2014