SAS Gets Political in Hamburg: Students get a lesson on German Politics and Elections

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Tom Bertrand
Sep 17, 2013


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History

SAS Gets Political in Hamburg: Students get a lesson on German Politics and Elections

SAS students join Dr. Wieland Schinnenburg of Germany's Parliament at the Council board seats in the Parliament chambers during a private visit to Hamburg's Rathaus.

September 22 is Germany’s major election day, when voters will select their new Chancellor (the equivalent of the U.S. President) or keep the current Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in office. While in Hamburg, 15 SAS students, including myself, participated in an exclusive tour of Hamburg’s Rathaus, that city’s City Hall.  Built from 1886–1897, the Rathaus is home to Hamburg’s Parliament and Senate. Hamburg is one of Germany’s three City-States. Our tour guide was Dr. Wieland Schinnenburg (pronounced “Vee-lund Shy-nen-berg”), vice president of the Bürgerschaft, which is Hamburg’s Parliament. Dr. Schinnenburg showed us around part of the enormous Rathaus which, with 647 rooms, has more six more rooms than Buckingham Palace. In the Parliament’s Council Room, we joined him in the seats along the council board. Later, Dr. Schinnenburg taught us a bit about German elections.  As a U.S. citizen, I was most interested in finding out how Germany’s government differs from my own country’s. Like the U.S., Germany values a well-spread division of power and an efficient democratic voting system.  But however similar the ideals and values of the two governments were, I was more intrigued by the differences. Here are few of the ways Germany and the U.S. differ in our approach to elections.

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