The Tasks of the Landtag
Legislative function: The right to pass laws is a paramount task of every democratically elected parliament. The powers are divided between the Federation and the Länder (Federal States) and are precisely regulated by the Basic Law (Articles 70 to 82). Where the federal level is not granted legislative competence, this is the responsibility of the Länder. Important fields of legislation at the Länder level are, for example, the school system, the police and community law.
Control function: In addition to legislation, the Landtag also has the important task of controlling the activities of the Land government and of the Land administration under its authority. The term “control” has a double meaning in parliamentary language. On the one hand, it includes the retrospective review, criticism or approval of state action, but on the other hand, parliament also formulates recommendations and expectations for future action.
Electoral function: The members of the Landtag are entrusted with the election of several important political officeholders. These include the Landtag President, but also the Minister-President as head of the Land government and the members of the Land Constitutional Court. The members of parliament can also elect Land commissioners to safeguard constitutionally guaranteed rights and to exercise and protect the interests of certain population groups. The Landtag in Brandenburg has currently appointed a Land commissioner for data protection and for the right to inspect files (Landesbeauftragte für den Datenschutz und für das Recht auf Akteneinsicht, LDA) and a Land commissioner for addressing the consequences of the communist dictatorship (Landesbeauftragte zur Aufarbeitung der Folgen der kommunistischen Diktatur, LAkD).
Budgetary control: Parliament’s budgetary right or “power of the purse” – i.e. the power to decide how much money is spent on what – is traditionally considered the “royal right” of a democratically elected representative body. Since all governmental and administrative activities requiring expenditure need financial security, the budget is of decisive political importance: With it, decisions are made on the measures to be implemented in the following year. The correctness of the budget and economic management within the Land administration is examined by the Brandenburg Land Audit Office (Landesrechnungshof). It reports to the Landtag once a year.
Public function: The Landtag sees itself as a forum for the formation of political will. The inclusion and implementation of the citizens’ political opinions in state decisions is one of its central tasks. The positions of the political parties represented in parliament are discussed in public debates: The government has to answer to the members of the Landtag, and the MPs, as representatives of the people, publicly state their position on the affairs of the Land.