How many countries are not a republic


1. Definition

The concept of the republic (R.) is subject to a fundamental change in meaning. N. Machiavelli had reduced the Aristotelian division into three parts (sole rule, rule of a few, rule of many) to a two-way division and differentiated the states of the world according to R.en and monarchies. In the R.en many ruled, in the monarchies the power of the state emanates from a single one. Due to the parliamentarization of many monarchies, the meaning has changed today. With R. every non-monarchy is meant: The head of state is not determined by succession. The question of the form of government - R. or monarchy - is therefore far less important than the question of the form of government - democracy or dictatorship. The majority of the monarchies are functioning democracies, the majority of the R. on the other hand dictatorships or defective democracies. After all, the respective form of government says nothing about the actual rulers and the legitimacy of the state. The → GDR was just as much a R. as the FRG is. So there are democratic and non-democratic R.en. In this sense, R. is a mere formal term that enables a clear classification of states according to this criterion. Since the propagation of the monarchy does not play a role today, the term R. is largely devoid of substance. It has almost been devalued (see Langewiesche 1993). But there is increasingly a position that seeks to upgrade the concept of R. (cf. Henke 1987). R. is again associated with the Roman res publica. According to this, states with a liberal order are R.en - states that appeal to citizenship, seek to realize the common good, have a constitutional order and promote "constitutional patriotism". The party of the "Republicans" founded in 1983 did not want to emphasize the antithesis to the monarchy with the name, but rather the anchoring in a free community - regardless of whether this was justified.

Anyone who does not see R. as merely the opposite of the monarchy will find it difficult to justify how R. differs from democracy or the rule of law. This blurring does not serve a clear terminology. The derivation from tradition - the term R. is of Roman origin - is not convincing either: "A republic is a free order. Democracy is freedom par excellence. The republic comes from the Roman, democracy from the Greek tradition. Both ancient worlds have shaped our culture , but in different ways. Roman is the law and the adherence to and careful changing of the traditional, Greek is free thought and creation "(Henke 1987: 879). The concept of the "mixed constitution" and the democratic constitutional state seems more sensible than recourse to the concept of R. to express that the democratic constitutional state is not limited to popular sovereignty.

2. FRG

Art. 20 GG stipulates the state structure principles Ds: republic, → democracy, → federal state, → welfare state and → rule of law. According to Article 79.3 of the Basic Law, these cannot be changed. With regard to the R. principle, this is not consistent. After all, this is - rightly - not one of the characteristics of the → free democratic basic order - in contrast to the others mentioned (except for the federal state). Supporters of a parliamentary monarchy of the British model do not violate the principles of a liberal order. Incidentally, in view of the lack of votes for the introduction of the monarchy, this discussion must be regarded as quite academic. In D the principle of R. has long been accepted on all sides, while after the First World War "monarchists of the heart" faced "Republicans of reason". At the time, the Reich President acted as a kind of substitute monarch.

Since German unification, especially after the decision of the German → Bundestag for BE as the seat of government (1991) and after the government moved (1999), there has been much talk of a "Berlin Republic". Anyone who uses this term is trying to suggest that a fundamentally new R. has arisen through German unification. Certainly major changes have taken place - more in some areas (such as foreign policy), less in others (such as the institutional order) - but this in no way means that Association D has shifted the coordinate system. In addition, not all changes can be traced back to German unity. The concept of the "third R." (Michael Gehler) is misleading because it downplays the continuity with the FRG before German unification. An unreflective use of the term "Berlin Republic" causes problems. If the term "Berlin Republic" should gain acceptance in public opinion, this does not necessarily mean that this R. stands in contrast to the (old) "Bonn Republic".


Gallus Alexander / Jesse, Eckhard (ed.) 2007: Forms of government from antiquity to the present. A manual. Cologne.

Görtemaker, Manfred 2009: The Berlin Republic. From the foundation to the present. Munich.

Henke, Josef 1987: The Republic, in: Isensee, Josef / Kirchhof, Paul (ed.): Handbook of the constitutional law of the Federal Republic of Germany, Vol. I. Heidelberg.

Langewiesche, Dieter 1993: Republic and Republicans. About the historical devaluation of a political term. Eat.

Mager, Wolfgang 2001: Republic, in: Brunner, Otto / Conze, Werner / Koselleck, Reinhard (Hrsg.): Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe, Vol. 5. Stuttgart.

Reinalter, Helmut (Ed.) 2005: Concept of republic and republics since the 18th century in a European comparison. Frankfurt a. M.

Source: Andersen, Uwe / Wichard Woyke (ed.): Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 7th, updated Aufl. Heidelberg: Springer VS 2013. Author of the article: Eckhard Jesse