The cities of Hamburg and Berlin are independent cities and federal states at the same time. They are called city-states. Bremen, which consists of the two independent cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven, is a special case. These cities are considered separate federal states and are listed in the preamble to the Basic Law. They have a seat and vote in the Bundesrat, which represents the interests of the federal states in the legislative process as the second parliamentary chamber. The mayors of the cities, which have different titles, are members of the Prime Ministers' Conference. The city-states each have their own state constitution. The emergence of each city-state has different historical roots.
Special rights in financial equalization
In the financial equalization between the federal states, the city-states are treated preferentially, since it is assumed that the necessary expenses in cities are higher than in large-area states with a high proportion of rural regions.
Dissolution of individual City-States?
The merging of city states with the federal states surrounding them is discussed time and again in order to save on administrative costs. This would theoretically be possible by changing the Basic Law. Apart from the fact that real savings would be doubtful, this regularly meets with considerable resistance from the population, for whom the independence of their regions is important. In 1996, for example, the people of Brandenburg rejected a merger with Berlin with a clear majority. In Hamburg, this discussion has led to improved cooperation between the city and the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony in the Hamburg metropolitan region.
The Federal Capital Berlin
Even as the capital of the state of Prussia, Berlin played a special role as a royal residence city that was ruled directly by the kings. Under Freiherr vom Stein, a municipal self-government was formed for the first time, which built on the municipal structures built up during the Napoleonic occupation and the election of an administrative committee at that time. In 1871 Berlin became the capital of the German Empire and remained the capital of Prussia. In the Weimar Republic, the capital was considerably enlarged by incorporations.
After the collapse of the National Socialist state, the Allies divided Berlin into four sectors, each assigned to one of the victorious powers of Russia, the USA, France and Great Britain and administered by a joint Allied command. In 1948 a first city council was elected in the western zones. When the Federal Republic was founded in May 1949, the western zones of the city of Berlin, which was surrounded by the GDR, were included in the Basic Law as a separate federal state.
In 1950, the first House of Representatives of the new city-state of Berlin was elected, which in turn formed the Senate of Berlin with a Governing Mayor chose at the top. After the fall of the Wall, East Berlin was integrated and Berlin became the new federal capital by resolution of the Bundestag.
Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg
Hamburg already has a long tradition as a free imperial city and later as a free city in the German Confederation. In the Weimar Republic, the Hamburg Parliament was elected as the state's parliament. The state administration and the local government are identical. Hamburg's first mayor is head of government as president of the Senate and mayor in personal union as well as a member of the Prime Ministers' Conference. As Hamburg's representative, he has a seat and vote in the Bundesrat. The state parliament is the Hamburg citizenship, which elects the first mayor.
The two-city state of Bremen
Bremen and Bremerhaven are governed by a mayor and together form the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. The mayor of Bremen is also the head of government of the two-city state of Bremen, which consists of Bremen and Bremerhaven. The mayor of Bremen governs the city of Bremen with the Bremen administration in personal union with the office of Senate President. The Senate forms the government of the federal state, the Senate President thus corresponds to the Prime Minister in the non-city states. As President of the Senate, he also governs Bremerhaven, which is led by a Lord Mayor at district and municipal level. The state parliament is the Bremen citizenship, in which 15 of the 84 seats are reserved for representatives from Bremerhaven.
The overseas port area within Bremerhaven does not belong to Bremerhaven, but is determined directly from Bremen as an exclave of the city of Bremen. Bremerhaven itself was bought by Bremen from the Kingdom of Hanover in 1827 in order to build a replacement for the increasingly silted up Weserhafen in Bremen. After the Second World War, Bremerhaven became an American enclave within the surrounding British occupation zone. The USA had its own seaport in Germany. Even before the Basic Law was passed, they proclaimed the state of the Hanseatic City of Bremen. The city of Bremerhaven joined the new federal state. The common state constitution was adopted in a referendum in autumn 1947.