The Civil Service

Germany Table of Contents

As of June 1992, about 6.7 million Germans were employed by federal, Land , or local governments in Germany; close to 5 million of these were in the western part of the country, and 1.6 million were in the east. The vast majority (over 4.5 million) were employed at the Land and local levels. Included at the federal level were roughly 642,000 postal workers and 434,000 railroad workers. Of these civil servants, about 5.6 million were working full time and 1.1 million part time. Public servants have considerable social status in Germany.

Civil servants are categorized into three groups. Slightly over 2 million are career civil servants (Beamten ; sing., Beamte ); about 3 million are employees (Angestellten ; sing., Angestellte ); and roughly 1.5 million are workers (Arbeiter ). Beamten are divided into four "career groups": higher service, executive service, clerical service, and basic service. A public servant rarely moves from one category to another during his or her career.

Beamten , or career civil servants, constitute the highest level of the administrative elite and enjoy special privileges. They are appointed for life and also receive a noncontributory pension that substantially increases their salaries in comparison with those of public servants in other categories. Beamten can be found everywhere, from low-level jobs in the post office to the most senior positions in government ministries, the equivalent of supergrade administrative positions in the United States government. These upper-level Beamten occupy most of the significant administrative posts within the bureaucracy and thus influence both formation and application of policy. Almost all Beamten at that level of Land and federal administration have a university degree, typically with a concentration in law or economics.

In exercising Land authority, Beamten must obey the orders of their superiors, possess no right to strike, are bound to defend the constitutional order, and are legally responsible for the application of administrative law. In 1972 the federal and Land governments issued an executive decree that institutionalized the ban against employing antidemocratic extremists in the public service. This highly controversial law (known as the Radikalenerlass or Berufsverbot) mandated that all candidates for positions as Beamten be screened and those already employed be examined, if deemed necessary, for evidence of extreme political views. Other public servants may also be scrutinized "in accordance with the contracts regulating each case."

Public servants may run for public office, and many do so. For example, the Bundestag is often referred to as the parliament of civil servants because a high percentage of its members are Beamten . During the twelfth Bundestag (1990-94), almost one-third of the deputies were Beamten . The largest portion of that group, 10 percent, consisted of teachers.

More about the Government and Politics of Germany.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress