Vice-Chancellor of Germany

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Vice Chancellor of Germany
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Olaf Scholz - Deutscher Radiopreis 2016 01.jpg
Olaf Scholz

since 14 March 2018
Inaugural holder Otto of Stolberg-Wernigerode
Formation1 June 1878
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Deputy to the Federal Chancellor (German : Stellvertreter des Bundeskanzlers) is a title of one of the German cabinet members. The Chancellor is the head of government and, according to the constitution, gives this title to one of the Federal Ministers. This minister can use the constitutional powers of the Chancellor when officially replacing the Chancellor. This has never happened up to now, [1] although, according to the internal regulations of the government, the Deputy chairs cabinet meetings when the Chancellor is absent.


A German Deputy of the Chancellor can be regarded as the equivalent of a deputy prime minister in other parliamentary systems. A very important difference to e.g. the Vice President of the USA is that the Deputy is not the automatic successor of a Chancellor suddenly leaving office. The Deputy is thought only as a replacement for the actual Chancellor. Should the Chancellor for example die, the Federal President appoints one of the cabinet members acting Chancellor until the parliament elects a new Chancellor. [2] When in 1974 Chancellor Brandt resigned, the Federal President asked indeed Deputy Scheel to perform the duties of the Chancellor.

Usually, a German government is based on a coalition of two or more parties. The Chancellor makes gives the title to a minister of the (largest) coalition partner. In practice it is an honorary title denoting the most important cabinet member of the coalition partner. The 18th and current Deputy of the Chancellor is Olaf Scholz (SPD). He was appointed by Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) to the position on 14 March 2018 and also serves as the Federal Minister of Finance.

Although German : Stellvertreter is the constitutional term, most Germans know the Deputy by the expression Vice Chancellor (German : Vizekanzler). Chancellor (German : Kanzler) is the traditional term for the German head of government since 1867/71. A general deputy has been introduced only in 1878 by law (German : Stellvertretungsgesetz). In the Weimar Republic of 1919-1933, the office of German : Vizekanzler was mentioned in the internal reglement of the government. The current office or title exists since the constitution of 1949.


The German cabinet consists of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers. According to the Basic Law (Constitution), the Chancellor appoints one of the ministers Vice Chancellor. Theoretically it is possible that the Chancellor appoints several Deputies. The Chancellor can also take the position away. This is different to the appointment of a Federal Minister as such: the Chancellor makes a proposal to the Federal President and then the Federal President makes the official appointment.

Since coalition governments are common in German politics, the Vice Chancellor is in most cases a minister of the junior coalition partner, often the respective party leader.

In case of the Chancellor's absence, the Vice Chancellor acts in his or her place, for instance by heading Cabinet meetings.

The Vice Chancellor will not automatically become Chancellor for the rest of the term if the Chancellor dies or becomes unable to fulfill his or her duties in any other way. It is the President who asks the Vice Chancellor to fulfill the Chancellor's duties until the Bundestag elects a new Chancellor. This has happened only once: Vice Chancellor Walter Scheel was acting Chancellor for nine days in May 1974 between Chancellor Willy Brandt’s resignation and Helmut Schmidt’s election.


The office was initially established by the 1878 Stellvertretungsgesetz (Deputation Act), which provided for the Imperial Chancellor appointing a deputy, officially known as Allgemeiner Stellvertreter des Reichskanzlers (General Deputy to the Imperial Chancellor). In addition to the general deputy, who would be responsible for all the affairs of the Chancellor, the Chancellor could appoint deputies with limited responsibilities. The act was revised on 28 October 1918, when the possibility of appointing deputies with limited responsibilities was removed and the Vice-Chancellor was given the right to appear before parliament. [3]

In the Weimar Republic, the office was considered less important and was usually held by the minister of justice or interior. The most known office holder is Franz von Papen, a former Chancellor who formed a coalition government of national socialists and conservatives. Chancellor became Adolf Hitler, and Papen Vice Chancellor. It became soonly obvious that the position of Vice Chancellor provided no powers and was unsuited to constrain Hitler.

In the Federal Republic (since 1949), the Chancellors had no interest in allowing the Deputy to use the title for self promotion. [4] Since 1966 it became customary that the coalition partner of the governing party received the ministry of the exterior who was also appointed Deputy. The ministry of the exterior was considered to be the most important cabinet post besides the Chancellorship. This tradition faded away in the time of Merkel's office, partially, because political heavyweights of the coalition partner chose a different ministry for personal preference.

Lists of Vice Chancellors

German Empire (Allgemeiner Stellvertreter des Reichskanzlers)

Political Party:   FKP    FVP

#PortraitNameBirthDeathTerm startAge startTerm endAge endDaysPartyPortfolioCabinet
1 Ottosw.jpg Otto zu Stolberg-Wernigerode 30 October 183719 November 18961 June 18784020 June 1881431115 FKP Bismarck
2 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1981-127-06A, Karl-Heinrich von Boetticher.jpg Karl Heinrich von Boetticher 6 January 18336 March 190720 June 1881481 July 1897645855 FKP Secretary of State for the Interior Bismarck
3 Nicola Perscheid - Arthur von Posadowsky-Wehner.jpg Arthur von Posadowsky-Wehner 3 June 184523 October 19321 July 18975224 June 1907623644 FKP Secretary of State for the Interior Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst
4 Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg.jpg Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg 29 November 18561 January 192124 June 19075014 July 190952751 Independent Secretary of State for the Interior Bülow
5 Delbruck, Clemens von (1856-1921).jpg Clemens von Delbrück 19 January 185617 December 192114 July 19095322 May 1916602501 Independent Secretary of State for the Interior Bethmann-Hollweg
7 Karl Helfferich.jpg Karl Helfferich 22 July 187223 April 192422 May 1916439 November 191745536 Independent Secretary of State for the Interior (until 23 October 1917) Bethmann-Hollweg
8 Friedrich von Payer.jpg Friedrich von Payer 12 June 184714 July 19319 November 19177010 November 191871366 FVP Hertling

Weimar Republic (Allgemeiner Stellvertreter des Reichskanzlers)

Political Party:   DDP    Centre    DVP    SPD    DNVP

#PortraitNameBirthDeathTerm startAge startTerm endAge endDaysPartyPortfolioCabinet
1 Eugen Schiffer (1919).jpg Eugen Schiffer 14 February 18605 September 195413 February 19195819 April 19195965 DDP Deputy Minister-President / Minister of Finance Scheidemann
2 Bundesarchiv Bild 102-12088, Bernhard Dernburg.jpg Bernhard Dernburg 17 July 186514 October 193730 April 19195320 June 19195351 DDP Deputy Minister-President / Minister of Finance Scheidemann
3 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1989-072-16, Matthias Erzberger.jpg Matthias Erzberger 20 September 187526 August 192121 June 1919433 October 191944104 Centre Deputy Minister-President (until 14 August 1919) / Minister of Finance Bauer
4 Eugen Schiffer (1919).jpg Eugen Schiffer 14 February 18605 September 19543 October 19195927 March 192060176 DDP Minister of Justice Bauer
5 Erich Koch-Weser, Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1986-014-10, Kabinett Muller (cropped).jpg Erich Koch-Weser 26 February 187519 October 194427 March 19204521 June 19204586 DDP Minister of the Interior Müller I
6 Dr. Rudolf Heinze.jpg Rudolf Heinze 22 July 186526 May 192825 June 1920544 May 192155313 DVP Minister of Justice Fehrenbach
7 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-J0113-0500-001, Gustav Bauer.jpg Gustav Bauer 6 January 187016 September 194410 May 19215114 November 192252553 SPD Minister of Finance Wirth I
Wirth II
8 Robert Schmidt (politician).jpg Robert Schmidt 15 May 186416 September 194313 August 1923593 November 19235982 SPD Minister for Reconstruction Stresemann I
9 Bundesarchiv Bild 102-01175, Karl Jarres.jpg Karl Jarres 21 September 187420 October 195130 November 19234915 December 192450381 DVP Minister of the Interior Marx I
Marx II
10 Oskar Hergt.jpg Oskar Hergt 22 October 18699 May 196728 January 19275712 June 192858501 DNVP Minister of Justice Marx IV
11 Bundesarchiv Bild 102-10015, Robert Hermann Dietrich.jpg Hermann Dietrich 14 December 18796 March 195430 March 19305030 May 193252792 DDP Minister of Finance (from 26 June 1930) Brüning I
Brüning II

Nazi Germany

Political Party:   NSDAP

#PortraitNameBirthDeathTerm startAge startTerm endAge endDaysPartyOther positionsCabinet
1 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-S00017, Franz von Papen crop.jpg Franz von Papen 29 October 18792 May 196930 January 1933537 August 193454554Non-partisan Reichskommissar of Prussia (until 10 April 1933) Hitler

Federal Republic of Germany

Political Party:   FDP    CDU    SPD    Green

#PortraitNameBirthDeathTerm startAge startTerm endAge endDaysPartyPortfolioCabinet
1 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-P001512, Franz Blucher 2.jpg Franz Blücher 24 March 189626 March 195920 September 19495329 October 1957612961 FDP/FVP Marshall Plan (1949-1953) / Economic Cooperation (1953-1957) Adenauer I • II
2 Einde bezoek bondskanselier dr Ludwig Erhard en gaf persconferentie in het Haag, Bestanddeelnr 916-1330.jpg Ludwig Erhard 4 February 18975 May 197729 October 19576016 October 1963662178 CDU Economic Affairs Adenauer III • IV • V
3 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-87989-0060, Erich Mende.jpg Erich Mende 28 October 19166 May 199817 October 19634628 October 1966501107 FDP Intra-German Relations Erhard I • II
4 KAS-Seebohm, Hans-Christoph-Bild-628-1.jpg Hans-Christoph Seebohm 4 August 190317 September 19678 November 19666330 November 19666322CDU Transport Erhard II
5 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F057884-0009, Willy Brandt.jpg Willy Brandt 18 December 19138 October 19921 December 19665220 October 1969551054 SPD Foreign Affairs Kiesinger I
6 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1989-047-20, Walter Scheel.jpg Walter Scheel 8 July 191924 August 201621 October 19695016 May 1974541668FDP Foreign Affairs Brandt III
7 Hans-Dietrich Genscher (1989).jpg Hans-Dietrich Genscher 21 March 192731 March 201617 May 19744717 September 1982553045FDP Foreign Affairs Schmidt III • III
8 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F048636-0022, Dortmund, SPD-Parteitag, Egon Franke.jpg Egon Franke 11 April 191326 April 199517 September 1982691 October 19826914SPD Intra-German Relations Schmidt III
9 Hans-Dietrich Genscher (1989).jpg Hans-Dietrich Genscher 21 March 192731 March 20161 October 19825517 May 1992653516FDP Foreign Affairs Kohl IIIIIIIV
10 Jurgen Mollemann 2002 (cropped).jpeg Jürgen Möllemann 15 July 19455 June 200318 May 19924621 January 199347248FDP Economic Affairs Kohl IV
11 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F063645-0024, Pullach, Besuch Carstens beim BND.jpg Klaus Kinkel 17 December 19364 March 201921 January 19935626 October 1998612104FDP Foreign Affairs Kohl IVV
12 Joschka Fischer.jpg Joschka Fischer 12 April 194827 October 19985022 November 2005572583 Green Foreign Affairs Schröder III
13 FranzMuntefering mw1.jpg Franz Müntefering 16 January 194022 November 20056521 November 200767729SPD Labour and Social Affairs Merkel I
14 Frank-Walter Steinmeier Feb 2014 (cropped).jpg Frank-Walter Steinmeier 5 January 195621 November 20075127 October 200953706SPD Foreign Affairs Merkel I
15 Guido westerwelle.jpg Guido Westerwelle 27 December 196118 March 201628 October 20094716 May 201149565FDP Foreign Affairs Merkel II
16 Roesler-klein.jpg Philipp Rösler 24 February 197316 May 20113817 December 201340946FDP Economic Affairs Merkel II
17 Sigmar Gabriel (2013).jpg Sigmar Gabriel 12 September 195917 December 20135414 March 2018581548SPD Economic Affairs (2013-2017) / Foreign Affairs (2017-2018) Merkel III
18 Olaf Scholz - Deutscher Radiopreis 2016 01.jpg Olaf Scholz 14 June 195814 March 201859IncumbentIncumbent638SPD Finance Merkel IV

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  1. Ute Mager, in: von Münch/Kunig: Grundgesetz-Kommentar II, 5. Auflage 2001, Rn. 10/11 zu Art. 69.
  2. Georg Hermes, in: Horst Dreier (Hrsg.) Grundgesetz-Kommentar, Band 2, 2. Auflage 2006, Art. 69, Rn. 7, 17-19.
  3. "Gesetz, betreffend die Stellvertretung des Reichskanzlers ["Stellvertretungsgesetz"] (17.03.1878)". (in German). Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  4. Roman Herzog, in: Maunz/Dürig: Kommentar zum Grundgesetz, 2008, Art. 69, Rn. 9.