Germany's government is a federal republic. Power is divided between states, and voters have ultimate control of political issues. The central government has limited power.
Germany's constitution, The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, officially took effect on May 23, 1949, years after the end of World War II. The constitution protects citizens' individual liberties and maintains a division of power.
As of 2014, political heads include President Joaquim Gauck and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Federal Chancellor has central executive authority, with the power to choose members of the Federal Cabinet and authorize all political policies. The President maintains a more ceremonial role in politics.