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Politics & Society

Saxony is the oldest Free State in Germany. The denomination »Free State« corresponds to the French term »république«. This emphasises the fact that the state is not governed by a sovereign, but rather by its free citizens.

Legislation, Government, and Administration

The highest body of representation for the people is the Saxon Landtag as a parliament. The constitution describes the Landtag as »locale for the formation of political will«, and the Landtag is tasked with both legislative power and the power to control executive bodies. The minister president and state minister are elected by the Landtag, and form the state government as the highest executive body of the state.

The Landtag is elected for a term of five years, and in its currently fourth election period (2004-2009) seats a total of 124 members. Since the last Landtag elections, CDU and SPD have been forming a government coalition with a total of 68 seats. Minister President Stanislaw Tillich has the authority to decide on the government's domestic and foreign policy, and is therefore responsible for fundamental state policy. Administration falls to the state government, its subordinate authorities, and municipalities, counties, and other local authorities.

Population

Saxony is not just home to Saxons - the population consists of Vogtlanders, Sorbs, Ore Mountainers, Meisseners, Upper Lausitzers, Lower Silesians and others: all of them maintaining their own traditions and dialects.

The Free State with its around 4.3 million inhabitands (status: 2006) and a population density of 233 inhabitants per square kilometer, is the most populated and - with the exception of Berlin - also the most densely populated of the new federal states. In national comparison, Saxony ranks around the midpoint average among the German states in terms of population and population density.

Saxony has, with the Upper Elbe Valley between Pirna and Meissen, the city of Leipzig, and the south-western region between Chemnitz and Zwickau, three major population centres. The north-eastern region of Lausitz, the area between Grimma, Torgau and Döbeln and also the Ore Mountains are in comparison relatively thinly populated.

The Sorbs

The Sorbs, a national minority of western Slavic origins, are found in Saxony as well as in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg. Visitors to the Lausitz will notice bilingual signage, e.g. on street signs and place name signs. Particularly around Easter, you can find people in traditional dress, celebrating local traditional festivities and customs, e.g. the 'Easter Ride' in many communities in the area. Approximately two thirds of the around 60,000 Sorbs live in the eastern Saxon region of Lausitz, with the cultural centre of Bautzen. Their culture is expressly protected by the state as enshrined in the state constitution. Religious life is of central importance for the Sorb people, with either the catholic or protestant faith dominating the respective region.

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