Germany's democratic structure provides the nation's citizens with two principle representative organs: the Bundestag, which serves as the national parliament, and the Bundesrat, which serves Germany's regional states, or Lander. This compartmentalizes German political sovereignty into a centralized state and 16 semiautonomous Lander.
A growth in the number of Lander occurred in the years following German reunification in the early 1990s, when the five Lander comprising the former German Democratic Republic were absorbed into the West German state. Germany is a multiparty democracy, with voters typically choosing between two dominant parties: the more conservative Christian Democratic party and the more leftist Social Democratic Party. The majority of this democratic system was articulated in the nation's 1949 constitution, though with minor alterations following reunification.
The modern German interpretation of democracy is one that is inextricably linked to notions of basic human rights, federalism and social welfare initiatives. As such, German politicians and citizens oversee a democracy in which the government actively intervenes in creating egalitarian conditions within society, particularly regarding such issues as living standards, health care, unemployment and retirement. Germany also places a high premium on the transparency of its democracy and political activities, partly on principle, but also due to the lingering memory of past democratic failures, especially the ascendancy of National Socialism, or Nazism.