Constitutional amendment

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Under constitutional amendment is generally understood as changing a constitution of a State by a constitutional amendment law. This can affect parts of the constitution ( partial revision ) or the entire constitution ( total revision ).



The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (GG) as a federal constitution can only be changed by a federal law that expressly changes the text of the Basic Law with the votes of two thirds of the members of the German Bundestag and two thirds of the votes of the Bundesrat . All changes that are intended to change the federal structure in states or the fundamental participation of the states in legislation are prohibited. Changes to the principles of Art. 1 ( human dignity ) and Art. 20 (state structure) ( Art. 79 (3) GG - so-called eternity guarantee ) are also inadmissible . As a result, the abolition of fundamental rights through constitutional amendments is also limited overall. If such an inadmissible change occurs, unconstitutional constitutional law arises .

Due to the high frequency of changes to the Basic Law in comparison to other constitutions, the change to the existing constitutional amendment procedure according to Article 79 of the Basic Law is being discussed.

For changes to the constitutions of the German states , the requirements set out in them apply. In most cases, a two-thirds majority is provided in the state parliament . In some federal states, the change has to be confirmed by a referendum (as in Bavaria and Hesse ). In some cases, a constitutional amendment is also possible through a referendum (in addition to Bavaria, for example in Baden-Württemberg : Article 64 of the constitution).

Significant constitutional changes

The Basic Law of 1949 saw a large number of constitutional changes. Under the prerequisites of Art. 79 GG, they understood themselves not as measures of the constitutional, but of the constitutional power. The first significant acts include the German rearmament through the establishment of the Bundeswehr in 1956, the emergency laws of 1968 , the financial reform of 1969 and the lowering of the eligibility for voting from 21 to 18 years.

There were also changes that were necessary in the implementation of the Unification Treaty, such as the change in the preamble to extend the scope of application to the new federal states . In 1992 the reunification article was converted to the Europe article. In 1994, environmental protection was declared a national goal and Art. 20a GG was introduced. By inserting paragraphs 3 to 6 of Article 13 of the Basic Law, the so-called “ acoustic monitoring of living spaces ” was made possible for criminal prosecution purposes in 1998 and was approved by the Federal Constitutional Court in 2004 if the press continued to be negative . In 2009, the debt brake was finally introduced to combat Germany's national debt by adding a third paragraph to Article 109 of the Basic Law, which forbade households to use credit income for budget consolidation.


An amendment to the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation (BV) can be proposed by the people (through an initiative : Articles 138 and 139 BV) or by one of the two chambers of parliament ( National Council and Council of States according to Art. 194 BV). Both a total revision and a partial revision are possible (Art. 192–194 BV). The amendments to the Federal Constitution must not contradict the provisions of mandatory international law (Art. 194 Paragraph 2 BV). There are no other material barriers to the constitutional revision.

The proposal for a constitutional amendment must be by the people ( popular majority ) and the cantons ( cantons ) (defined in accordance with Article 142 BV) are assumed to be valid (Art. 195 BV).


The federal constitution can be amended by a federal constitutional law ( law with constitutional status) or by a constitutional provision contained in a simple federal law. In contrast to the regular legislative procedure , a majority of two thirds of the votes cast is required in the National Council if at least half of the members are present ( Art. 44 Para. 1 B-VG ). All changes that curtail the powers of the federal states require an additional two-thirds majority in the Federal Council , again if at least half of the members are present ( Art. 44 Para. 2 B-VG). Overall changes must be submitted to a referendum; other constitutional amendments only if a third of the members of the National Council or the Federal Council so request ( Art. 44 para. 3 B-VG). If the production regulations mentioned are not complied with, unconstitutional law will result and the constitutional amendment can be repealed by the Constitutional Court.

English speaking area

The additional articles to the constitution of the United States are known under their English name "amendments". The word comes from the French amendement, which is based on the Latin emendare (to improve, see Emendation ). French amendement means an improvement and became a legal term for the amendment proposal . In this sense it was also used in the American for the constitutional amendments in the 18th century. In English , amendment means, among other things, change, improvement, correction, new version.

For example, on October 27, 1967, the British House of Commons regulated the right to abortion for Great Britain in the Abortion Act . In 1990 an amendment (Human Fertilization and Embryology Act) to this law was passed; it modified some of the regulations that had previously been in force.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Number of MPs
  2. Composition of the Federal Council (number of members of the BR)
  3. Dieter Grimm : Is the constitutional amendment procedure itself in need of change? , in: Humboldt Forum Recht (HFR), 2007, p. 214 ff.
  4. ^ Supplement to the Basic Law Art. 87a GG
  5. Art. 1 of the Seventeenth Act to Supplement the Basic Law of June 24, 1968
  6. Article 1 of the Twenty-first Amendment Act of May 12, 1969
  7. Art. 1 Twenty-seventh Amendment Act of March 18, 1971
  8. Art. 1 Amendment Act of December 21, 1992
  9. Law amending the Basic Law, Federal Law Gazette I p. 610
  10. BVerfGE 109, 279 (309).
  11. See z. B. the decision G12 / 00 among others of the Constitutional Court of October 11, 2001, available in the legal information system of the Republic of Austria (RIS).
  12., original text
  13., full text