Winston Churchill reminded us that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. Even within democracy, the many variations that have been attempted sometimes have trouble speaking the same language – literally and figuratively.

Two of them, in the United Stares and in the Federal Republic of Germany, illustrate varying structures and styles of democracy, each with advantages and disadvantages. The measure of both is their capacity for leadership and their ability to govern effectively; but the two systems operate differently, with different arrangements of power, institutions, and processes reflecting their origins and experiences. Understanding these differences helps to illuminate policy-making priorities, processes, and outcomes – which is important when two countries are finding common ground, and even more so when they are not.

The article originally appeared in Berlin Policy Journal on November 10, 2015 and is available behind a pay wall. Click here to continue reading.