Chancellor of Germany

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Chancellor of Germany
Bundeskanzler der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Bundesadler Bundesorgane.svg
Angela Merkel. Tallinn Digital Summit.jpg
Incumbent
Angela Merkel

since November 22, 2005 (2005-11-22)
Executive branch of the Government
Cabinet of Germany
Style Madam Chancellor
(Normal)
Her Excellency
(diplomatic) [1]
Status Head of Government
Member of European Council
Seat Federal Chancellery, Berlin (primary)
Palais Schaumburg, Bonn (secondary)
Nominator President of Germany
Appointer
Term length 4 years, renewable
Constituting instrument German Basic Law
Formation
First holder Otto von Bismarck
Deputy Vice Chancellor of Germany
Salary€247,000 annually
Website bundeskanzlerin.de

The title Chancellor has designated different offices in the history of Germany. It is currently used for the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (German : Bundeskanzler(in) der Bundesrepublik Deutschland), the head of government of Germany.

Chancellor of Germany (1949–present) head of government of Federal Republic of Germany 1949–present

The Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany is, under the German 1949 Constitution, the head of government of Germany. Historically, the office has evolved from the office of chancellor that was originally established in the North German Confederation in 1867.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, who often presides over a cabinet, a group of ministers or secretaries who lead executive departments. "Head of government" is often differentiated from "head of state", as they may be separate positions, individuals, or roles depending on the country.

Contents

The term, dating from the Early Middle Ages, is derived from the Latin term cancellarius. The modern office of chancellor evolved from the position created for Otto von Bismarck in the North German Confederation in 1867; this federal state evolved into a German nation-state with the 1871 Unification of Germany. The role of the chancellor has varied greatly throughout Germany's modern history. Today, the chancellor is the country's effective leader, although in formal protocol, the Bundespräsident and Bundestagspräsident are ranked higher.

Early Middle Ages Period of European history between the 5th and 10th centuries CE

Historians typically regard the Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, as lasting from the 5th or 6th century to the 10th century CE. They marked the start of the Middle Ages of European history. The alternative term "Late Antiquity" emphasizes elements of continuity with the Roman Empire, while "Early Middle Ages" is used to emphasize developments characteristic of the earlier medieval period. As such the concept overlaps with Late Antiquity, following the decline of the Western Roman Empire, and precedes the High Middle Ages.

Otto von Bismarck 19th-century German statesman and Chancellor

Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg, known as Otto von Bismarck, was a conservative Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs from the 1860s until 1890 and was the first Chancellor of the German Empire between 1871 and 1890.

North German Confederation Federal state in Northern Germany in 1867–1870

The North German Confederation was the German federal state which existed from July 1867 to December 1870. It was said to be led by Prussia. Some historians also use the name for the alliance of 22 German states formed on 18 August 1866. In 1870–1871, the south German states of Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, Württemberg and Bavaria joined the country. On 1 January 1871, the country adopted a new constitution, which was written under the title of a new "German Confederation" but already gave it the name "German Empire" in the preamble and article 11.

In German politics, the chancellor is the equivalent of a prime minister in many other countries. The chancellor is elected by the Bundestag. [2]

Politics of Germany National politics

Germany is a democratic, federal parliamentary republic, where federal legislative power is vested in the Bundestag and the Bundesrat.

Prime minister most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system

A prime minister is the head of a cabinet and the leader of the ministers in the executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary or semi-presidential system. A prime minister is not a head of state or chief executive officer of their respective nation, rather they are a head of government, serving typically under a monarch in a hybrid of aristocratic and democratic government forms.

Bundestag Federal parliament of Germany

The Bundestag is the German federal parliament. It can be compared to the chamber of deputies along the lines of the United States House of Representatives or the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Through the Bundesrat, a separate institution, the individual states of Germany participate in legislation similar to a second house in a bicameral parliament.

The current, official title in German is Bundeskanzler(in), which means "Federal Chancellor", and is sometimes shortened to Kanzler(in). The 8th and current chancellor is Angela Merkel, who is serving her fourth term in office. She is the first female chancellor. [3]

Angela Merkel Chancellor of Germany

Angela Dorothea Merkel is a German politician serving as Chancellor of Germany since 2005. She served as the leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 2000 to 2018. Merkel has been widely described as the de facto leader of the European Union, the most powerful woman in the world, and by many commentators as the leader of the Free World.

Historical overview

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The title of Chancellor has a long history, stemming back to the Holy Roman Empire, when the office of German archchancellor was usually held by Archbishops of Mainz. The title was, at times, used in several states of German-speaking Europe. The modern office of chancellor was established with the North German Confederation, of which Otto von Bismarck became Bundeskanzler (meaning "Federal Chancellor") in 1867. With the enlargement of this federal state to the German Empire in 1871, the title was renamed to Reichskanzler (meaning " Reich Chancellor"). With Germany's constitution of 1949, the title of Bundeskanzler was revived.

Holy Roman Empire Varying complex of lands that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe

The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.

Archchancellor

An archchancellor or chief chancellor was a title given to the highest dignitary of the Holy Roman Empire, and also used occasionally during the Middle Ages to denote an official who supervised the work of chancellors or notaries.

Electorate of Mainz archdiocese

The Electorate of Mainz, previously known in English as Mentz and by its French name Mayence, was one of the most prestigious and influential states of the Holy Roman Empire. In the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz was the Primate of Germany, a purely honorary dignity that was unsuccessfully claimed from time to time by other archbishops. There were only two other ecclesiastical Prince-electors in the Empire: the Electorate of Cologne and the Electorate of Trier.

During the various eras, the role of the chancellor has varied. From 1867 to 1918, the chancellor was the only responsible minister of the federal level. He was installed by the federal presidium (i.e. the Prussian king; since 1871 called Emperor). The Staatssekretäre were civil servants subordinate to the chancellor. Besides the executive, the constitution gave the chancellor only one function: presiding over the Federal Council, the representative organ of the states (together with the parliament the law maker). But in reality, the chancellor was nearly always installed as minister president of Prussia, too. Indirectly, this gave the chancellor the power of the Federal Council, including the dissolution of parliament.

Although effective government was possible only on cooperation with the parliament (Reichstag), the results of the elections had only an indirect influence on the chancellorship, at most. Only in October 1918, the constitution was changed: it required the chancellor to have the trust of the parliament. Some two weeks later, Chancellor Max von Baden declared the abdication of the emperor and ceded power illegally to the revolutionary Council of People’s Delegates.

According to the Weimar Constitution of 1919, the chancellor was head of a collegial government. The chancellor was appointed and dismissed by the president, as were the ministers, upon proposal by the chancellor. The chancellor or any minister had to be dismissed if demanded by parliament. As today, the chancellor had the prerogative to determine the guidelines of government (Richtlinienkompetenz). In reality this power was limited by coalition government and the president.

Weimar Constitution German constitution of 1919

The Constitution of the German Reich, usually known as the Weimar Constitution was the constitution that governed Germany during the Weimar Republic era (1919–1933). The constitution declared Germany to be a democratic parliamentary republic with a legislature elected under proportional representation. Universal suffrage was established, with a minimum voting age of 20. The constitution technically remained in effect throughout the Nazi era from 1933 to 1945.

When the Nazis came to power on 30 January 1933, the Weimar Constitution was de facto set aside. After the death of President Hindenburg in 1934, Adolf Hitler, the dictatorial party leader and chancellor, took over the powers of the president. The new official title became Führer und Reichskanzler (meaning "Leader and Reich Chancellor").

The 1949 constitution gave the chancellor much greater powers than during the Weimar Republic, while strongly diminishing the role of the president. Germany is today often referred to as a "chancellor democracy", reflecting the role of the chancellor as the country's chief executive.

Since 1867, 33 individuals have served as heads of government of Germany, West Germany, or Northern Germany, nearly all of them with the title of Chancellor.

Due to his administrative tasks, the head of the clerics at the chapel of an imperial palace during the Carolingian Empire was called chancellor (from Latin : cancellarius). The chapel's college acted as the Emperor's chancery issuing deeds and capitularies. Since the days of Louis the German, the archbishop of Mainz was ex officio German archchancellor, a position he held until the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, while de jure the archbishop of Cologne was chancellor of Italy and the archbishop of Trier of Burgundy. These three prince-archbishops were also prince-electors of the empire electing the King of the Romans. Already in medieval times, the German chancellor had political power like Archbishop Willigis (archchancellor 975–1011, regent for King Otto III of Germany 991–994) or Rainald von Dassel (Chancellor 1156–1162 and 1166–1167) under Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.

In 1559, Emperor Ferdinand I established the agency of an imperial chancellery (Reichshofkanzlei) at the Vienna Hofburg Palace, headed by a vice-chancellor under the nominal authority of the Mainz archbishop. Upon the 1620 Battle of White Mountain, Emperor Ferdinand II created the office of an Austrian court chancellor in charge of the internal and foreign affairs of the Habsburg Monarchy. From 1753 onwards, the office of an Austrian state chancellor was held by Prince Kaunitz. The imperial chancellery lost its importance, and from the days of Maria Theresa and Joseph II, merely existed on paper. After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, Prince Metternich served as state chancellor of the Austrian Empire (1821–1848), likewise Prince Hardenberg acted as Prussian chancellor (1810–1822). The German Confederation of 1815-1866 did not have a government or parliament, only the Bundestag as representative organ of the states.

In the now defunct German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany), which existed from 7 October 1949 to 3 October 1990 (when the territory of the former GDR was reunified with the Federal Republic of Germany), the position of chancellor did not exist. The equivalent position was called either Minister President(Ministerpräsident) or Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the GDR(Vorsitzender des Ministerrats der DDR). (See Leaders of East Germany.)

Chancellor of the North German Confederation (1867–1870)

The head of the federal government of the North German Confederation, which was created on 1 July 1867, had the title Bundeskanzler. The only person to hold the office was Otto von Bismarck, the prime minister of Prussia. The king, being the bearer of the Bundespräsidium, installed him on 14 July.

Under the constitution of 1 January 1871, the king had additionally the title of Emperor. The constitution still called the chancellor Bundeskanzler. This was only changed in the new constitution of 16 April 1871 to Reichskanzler. The office remained the same, and Bismarck was not even re-installed.

Chancellor of the German Empire (1871–1918)

Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the German Empire Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2005-0057, Otto von Bismarck.jpg
Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the German Empire

In the 1871 German Empire, the Reichskanzler ("Imperial Chancellor") served both as the emperor's first minister, and as presiding officer of the Bundesrat, the upper chamber of the German parliament. He was neither elected by nor responsible to Parliament (the Reichstag ). Instead, the chancellor was appointed by the emperor.

The federal level had four organs:

Technically, the foreign ministers of the empire's states instructed their states' deputies to the federal council (Bundesrat) and therefore outranked the chancellor. For this reason, Prince Bismarck (as he was from 1871 onwards) continued to serve as both prime minister and foreign minister of Prussia for virtually his entire tenure as chancellor of the empire, since he wanted to continue to exercise this power. Since Prussia controlled seventeen votes in the Bundesrat, Bismarck could effectively control the proceedings by making deals with the smaller states.

The term chancellor signalled the seemingly low priority of this institution compared to the governments of the German states, because the new chancellor of the federal empire should not be a full-fledged prime minister, in contrast to the heads of the states. The title of chancellor additionally symbolized a strong monarchist, bureaucratic, and ultimately antiparliamentary component, as in the Prussian tradition of, for instance, Hardenberg.

In both of these aspects, the executive of the federation, and then empire, as it was formed in 1867 and 1871, was deliberately different from the Imperial Ministry of the revolutionary years 1848/49, which had been led by a prime minister elected by the National Assembly.

In 1871, the concept of the federal chancellor was transferred to the executive of the newly formed German Empire, which now also contained the South German states. Here too, the terms of “chancellor” and “federal agency” (as opposed to “ministry” or “government”) suggested an (apparent) lower priority of the federal executive as compared to the governments of the federal states. For this reason, neither the chancellor nor the leaders of the imperial departments under his command used the title of Minister until 1918.

The constitution of Germany was altered on 29 October 1918, when the parliament was given the right to dismiss the chancellor. However, the change could not prevent the outbreak of a revolution a few days later.

Revolutionary period (1918–1919)

On 9 November 1918, Chancellor Max von Baden handed over his office of chancellor to Friedrich Ebert. Ebert continued to serve as head of government during the three months between the end of the German Empire in November 1918 and the first gathering of the National Assembly in February 1919, but did not use the title of Chancellor.

During that time, Ebert also served as chairman of the "Council of the People's Deputies", until 29 December 1918 together with the Independent Social Democrat Hugo Haase.

Chancellor of the Weimar Republic (1919–1933)

The office of chancellor was continued in the Weimar Republic. The chancellor (Reichskanzler) was appointed by the President and was responsible to the parliament.

Under the Weimar Republic, the chancellor was a fairly weak figure. Much like his French counterpart, he served as little more than a chairman. Cabinet decisions were made by majority vote. In fact, many of the Weimar governments depended highly on the cooperation of the president, due to the difficulty of finding a majority in the parliament.

See Reichskanzler (1919–1933) in List of Chancellors of Germany

Chancellor of Nazi Germany (1933–1945)

Adolf Hitler, Chancellor from 1933 to 1945 Adolf Hitler-1933.jpg
Adolf Hitler, Chancellor from 1933 to 1945

Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933 by Paul von Hindenburg. Upon taking office, Hitler immediately began accumulating power and changing the nature of the chancellorship. After only two months in office, and following the burning of the Reichstag building, the parliament passed the Enabling Act giving the chancellor full legislative powers for a period of four years – the chancellor could introduce any law without consulting Parliament. Powers of the chancellor continued to grow until August 1934, when the incumbent President Paul von Hindenburg died. Hitler used the Enabling Act to merge the office of chancellor with that of the president to create a new office, "the leader". Although the offices were merged, Hitler continued to be addressed as "Führer und Reichskanzler" indicating that the head of state and head of government were still separate positions, albeit held by the same man. This separation was made more evident when, in April 1945, Hitler gave instruction that upon his death the office of leader would dissolve and there would be a new president and chancellor. On 30 April 1945, when Hitler committed suicide, he was briefly succeeded as chancellor by Joseph Goebbels, as dictated in Hitler's will and testament. With Goebbels following Hitler's suicide with his own, the reins of power passed to Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz as President of Germany. Dönitz, in turn, appointed conservative Count Schwerin von Krosigk as head of government with the title “Leading Minister”.

Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (from 1949)

Angela MerkelGerhard SchröderHelmut KohlHelmut SchmidtWilly BrandtKurt Georg KiesingerLudwig ErhardKonrad AdenauerChancellor of Germany

The 1949 German constitution, the Basic Law (Grundgesetz), invests the chancellor (German, Bundeskanzler) with broad powers to initiate government policy. For that reason, some observers refer to the German political system as a "chancellor democracy". Whichever major party (CDU/CSU or SPD) does not hold the chancellorship usually calls its leading candidate for the federal election "chancellor-candidate" (Kanzlerkandidat). The federal government (Bundesregierung) consists of the chancellor and his cabinet ministers.

The Chancellor's Office in Berlin 07.08.21.Bundeskanzleramt.jpg
The Chancellor's Office in Berlin

The chancellor's authority emanates from the provisions of the Basic Law and in practice from his status as leader of the party (or coalition of parties) holding a majority of seats in the Bundestag (federal parliament). With the exception of Helmut Schmidt, the chancellor has also been chairman of his or her own party. This was the case with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder from 1999 until he resigned the chairmanship of the SPD in 2004.

The German chancellor is officially addressed as "Herr Bundeskanzler" if the chancellor is a man. The current holder of this office, Angela Merkel, considered to be the planet's most influential woman by Forbes Magazine, is officially addressed as "Frau Bundeskanzlerin", the feminine form of the title. Use of the mixed form "Frau Bundeskanzler" was deprecated by the government in 2004 because it is regarded as impolite and was seen as a way of acknowledging Merkel's future leadership. [4] In international correspondence, the chancellor is referered to as "His/Her Excellency the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany" ("Seiner/Ihrer Exzellenz dem/der Bundeskanler/in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland"). [1]

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 "Ratgeber für Anschriften und Anreden" (PDF). Bundesministerium des Innern - Protokoll Inland. p. 40. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  2. The Chancellor is elected by the Bundestag, normally on the proposal of the Federal President and without debate (Article 63 of the German Constitution).
  3. She is known in German as Bundeskanzlerin. Bundeskanzlerin is a grammatically regular formation of a noun denoting a female chancellor, adding "-in" to the end of Bundeskanzler, though the word was not used officially before Merkel.
  4. "Frau Bundeskanzler" oder ... "Frau Bundeskanzlerin"? – n-tv.de Archived 17 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine

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