The Politics of Bavaria takes place within a framework of a federal parliamentary representative democratic republic, where the Federal Government of Germany exercises sovereign rights with certain powers reserved to the states of Germany including Bavaria. The state has a multi-party system where the two main parties are the rightist Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) and the leftist Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).
Bavaria has a unicameral Landtag, or state parliament, elected by universal suffrage. Until December 1999, there was also a Senat, or Senate, whose members were chosen by social and economic groups in Bavaria, but following a referendum in 1998, this institution was abolished. The head of government is the Minister-President.
Bavaria has long been a bastion of conservative politics in Germany, with the Christian Social Union having almost a monopoly on power since its inception in 1946. Every Minister-President since 1957 has been a member of this party.
In 1995 the Bavarians decided to introduce direct democracy on the local level in a referendum. This was initiated bottom-up by an association called Mehr Demokratie (More Democracy). This is a grass-roots organization which campaigns for the right to citizen-initiated referendums. In 1997 the Bavarian Supreme Court aggravated the regulations considerably (e.g. by introducing a turn-out quorum). Nevertheless, Bavaria has the most advanced regulations on local direct democracy in Germany. This has led to a spirited citizens' participation in communal and municipal affairs - 835 referendums took place from 1995 through 2005.
In the 2003 elections the CSU won more than two-thirds of the seats in Landtag. No party in post-war German history had achieved this before. On the other hand the bigger and more liberal, or rather social democratic, cities, especially Munich, have been governed for decades by the SPD (Social Democrats). From the historical point of view, older Bavaria was one of the most liberal, predominantly Roman Catholic, states until the rather rural areas of Swabia and Franconia were added in 1814/15 at the Congress of Vienna. The Kingdom of Bavaria and the Duchy of Baden were the first German States to have a constitution early in the 19th Century.
The Bavarian State Parliament resides in the Maxmilianeum, a building rich in tradition built on the banks of River Isar by King Maximilian II in the 19th century. The 187 members of parliament are elected for a period of five years by the Bavarian population.
The Bavarian State Government consists of the Prime Minister, 11 Ministers and 6 Secretaries of State. The Prime Minister is elected for a period of five years by the State Parliament. With the approval of the State Parliament he appoints the members of the State Government. The State Government comprises ministries for home affairs, justice, education and the arts, science, finance, economic affairs, agriculture, employment, social affairs, the environment, and health.
The next election will be held on a Sunday. The following elections have to be held no earlier than 59 months and no later than 62 months after the previous one. The next election is expected to take place on Sunday 14 October 2018.
The election was held on 15 September 2013. The CSU won an absolute majority, while the FDP, a coalition party in the outgoing Bavarian government, did not receive enough votes to enter the new parliament.