At the end of World War II, the Allies encouraged the West German provinces (Länder) under their occupation to adopt a federal system. Political decentralization was seen as a safeguard against an expansionist strong Germany and as a way to denazify and re-educate German people by preventing the concentration of political power and bringing politics closer to the citizen. However, the decentralized institutions designed for the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949 were organized according to a political logic that ran against the grain of its unitary ethno-linguistic structure. In the following fifty years, the political system moved towards a congruence with the underlying social structure as political actors mobilized in all-German terms rather than following the federal demarcations. The unitary characteristics of this non-federal society brought about demands for uniform nationwide policies. The federal character of the German state, however, constitutes a non-amendable clause of the constitution. As a consequence, centralizing tendencies manifested themselves through the workings of the system rather than a large-scale state reform. In particular, collective action of the German Länder together with Länder-federal government (Bund) cooperation paved the way for nationwide public policies. Policy areas within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Länder were first harmonized and then standardized, eventually leading to de facto national policies. A student of German federalism has suggested the label of a “unitary federal state” for these patterns in which the Federal Republic of Germany came to function.1