Land constitutions and cooperative federalism: the German case

German Länder enjoy constitutional autonomy. They invoke the prerogative to adopt and change their constitutions at their own discretion. The Federation has no say in these matters. Yet, there is no such thing as ‘constitutionalism’ in the German Länder: Land constitutions remain instruments of government. So far, they failed to turn into ‘charters of self-governance’ (Gardner) that would the people help to pursue happiness or strive for a good life. This discrepancy between constitutional prerogatives and symbolic/political importance finds its cause in the fact that the constitutional autonomy of the Länder is politically entrenched and circumscribed in various ways. In essence this means that the dual character of federalism that structures constitutional politics in the Länder does not fit with German cooperative federalism that mostly shapes ‘normal’ politics in the Federation.