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Chancellor of Germany

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The Chancellor of Germany is the head of government of

Germany. The official title in German is Bundeskanzler(in) Federal Chancellor of the Federal
(literally, Federal Chancellor), sometimes shortened to Republic of Germany
Kanzler(in). The term, dating from the early Middle Ages, is Bundeskanzler(in) der Bundesrepublik
derived from the Latin term cancellarius. Deutschland
In German politics, the Chancellor is equivalent to that of a
prime minister in many other countries. German has two
equivalent translations of prime minister, Premierminister
and Ministerprsident. While Premierminister usually refers
to heads of governments of foreign countries (e.g., the
The Federal Eagle
United Kingdom), Ministerprsident may also refer to the
heads of government of most German states. Coat of arms of the German Government

The current Chancellor is Angela Merkel, who is serving her

third term in office. She is the first female chancellor, thus
being known in German as Bundeskanzlerin (that particular
word was never used officially before Merkel, but it is a
grammatically regular formation of a noun denoting a
female chancellor).

The modern office of Chancellor evolved from the position

created for Otto von Bismarck in the North German
Confederation in 1867; the Confederation 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.
Angela Merkel
since22 November 2005
Executive Branch of the
1 Historical overview German Federal Government
2 Chancellor of the North German Confederation Style Madam Chancellor
(18671871) Mrs. Chancellor
3 Chancellor of the German Empire (18711918) Excellency (in international
4 Revolutionary period (19181919)
5 Chancellor of the Weimar Republic (19191933)
6 Chancellor of Nazi Germany (19331945) Member of German Federal Cabinet
7 Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany European Council
(since 1949) Seat German Chancellery
8 Living former Chancellors Berlin, Germany
9 See also
Palais Schaumburg
10 References
Bonn, Germany
11 Further reading
11.1 Books Appointer President of Germany
11.2 Articles
11.2 Articles Term 4 years
Inaugural Otto von Bismarck
Historical overview holder
Formation 1 July 1867
The office of Chancellor has a long history, stemming back 21 March 1871
to the Holy Roman Empire, when the office of German 24 May 1949
archchancellor was usually held by Archbishops of Mainz.
The title was, at times, used in several states of German- First holder Konrad Adenauer
speaking Europe. The modern office of Chancellor was Salary 220,000 p.a.
established with the North German Confederation, of
Website bundeskanzlerin.de (http://bundes
which Otto von Bismarck became Chancellor in 1867. After
the Unification of Germany in 1871, the office became
known in German as Reichskanzler (lit. "Chancellor of the
Realm"), although it continued to be referred to as Chancellor in English. With Germany's constitution of
1949, the title Bundeskanzler (Federal Chancellor) was revived in German.

During the various eras, the role of the Chancellor has varied. From 1871 to 1918, the Chancellor was
only responsible to the Emperor. With the founding of the republic and the constitutional reform in 1918,
the Parliament was granted the right to dismiss the Reichskanzler. According to the Weimar Constitution
of 1919, the Chancellor was appointed by the President and responsible to Parliament and to the
President. 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 head of government
and of state (as no new president was elected) of Nazi Germany was called officially Fhrer und
Reichskanzler (literally "Leader and Chancellor of the Realm").

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 who has the
constitutional authority to establish the guidelines for all fields of government policy.

Since 1867, 33 individuals have served as heads of government of Germany or its predecessor, the North
German Confederation, most of them with the title 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 991994) or Rainald von Dassel (Chancellor 11561162 and
11661167) 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 (18211848), likewise Prince Hardenberg acted as Prussian chancellor (18101822).
From 1867 to 1871, the title Bundeskanzler (federal chancellor) was again used in the German language,
From 1867 to 1871, the title Bundeskanzler (federal chancellor) was again used in the German language,
during the time of the North German Confederation. From 1871 to 1945, the office was named
Reichskanzler (Imperial Chancellor). Since 1949, the formal title of the office in the German language is
once again Bundeskanzler.

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 (Ministerprsident) 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 (18671871)

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 Graf von
Bismarck-Schnhausen (better known simply as Otto von Bismarck),
the Prime Minister of Prussia.

Although the King of Prussia was proclaimed and sworn in as German

Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles on 18
January 1871, the North German Confederation did not cease to exist
until the 1871 Constitution of Germany went into force three months
later, on 16 April. Bismarck hence remained Chancellor of the
Confederation until that date. During these months, the North
German Confederation was also referred to as the German
Confederation, after the South German states (excluding Austria) had
joined the confederation.
Otto, Frst von Bismarck (as he
The Chancellor was appointed by the King of Prussia in his capacity as was styled from 1871)
President of the North German Confederation. His role and powers
were very similar to that of the office of Chancellor of Germany from 1871.

Chancellor of the German Empire (18711918)

In the 1871 German Empire, the Imperial Chancellor (Reichskanzler) 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 Government consisted of

a federal council (Bundesrat), consisting of representatives of the federal states and presided over
by the King of Prussia
a parliament, called the Reichstag
a rudimentary federal executive, first led by Otto, Frst von Bismarck, the Minister-President of
Prussia, as Imperial Chancellor in a personal union.

Technically, the foreign ministers of the empire's states instructed their states' deputies to the Federal
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, the Frst von 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 Berlin controlled 17 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 states, because the new Chancellor of the Federation should not be a fully fledged prime minister,
in contrast to the heads of the federal states. The title of Chancellor additionally symbolized a strong
monarchic-bureaucratic and ultimately antiparliamentary component, as in the Prussian tradition of, for
instance, von Hardenberg.

In both of these aspects, the executive of the Federation resp. the Empire, as it was formed in 1867/71,
was deliberately different from the Imperial Ministry of the revolutionary years 1848/49, which had been
led by a Prime Minister, who was 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

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

Revolutionary period (19181919)

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 (19191933)

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

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 Parliament.

See Reichskanzler (19191933) in List of Chancellors of Germany

Chancellor of Nazi Germany (19331945)
Adolf Hitler was
Chancellor of
Germany on 30
January 1933 by
Paul von
Hindenburg. Upon
taking office, Hitler
immediately began
power and
changing the
Franz von Papen, Chancellor in
nature of the Adolf Hitler, Chancellor from 1933 to 1945
After only two months in office, and following the burning of the
Reichstag building, the Reichstag body passed the Enabling Act giving the Reich 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 Reich Chancellor with that of
President to create a new office, der Fhrer; although the offices were merged, Hitler continued to be
addressed as "Fhrer 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 Fhrer 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 Dnitz
as President of Germany. Dnitz, in turn, appointed non-partisan conservative Count Schwerin von
Krosigk as head of government with the title Leading Minister. Dnitz and Schwerin von Krosigk
negotiated the surrender to the Allies.

Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (since 1949)

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 or her cabinet ministers.

The chancellor's authority emanates from the provisions of the Basic Law and in practice from his or her
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 usually also been chairman of his
or her own party. This was the case with Chancellor Gerhard Schrder 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 female Chancellor Angela Merkel, once considered the most powerful woman in the world by
Forbes Magazine, is officially addressed as "Frau Bundeskanzlerin", the feminine form of the title. Use of
the mixed form "Frau Bundeskanzler"
the mixed form "Frau Bundeskanzler"
was deprecated by the government in
2004 because it is regarded as
The Chancellor's Office in Berlin
Living former
There are two living former German Chancellors:

Helmut Kohl Gerhard Schrder

(1982-1998) (1998-2005)
April 3, 1930 April 7, 1944

See also
List of Chancellors of Germany
Religious affiliations of Chancellors of Germany

1. Ratgeber fr Anschriften und Anreden. (http://www.bmi.bund.de/cae/servlet/co
ntentblob/150142/publicationFile/54722/Anschriften.pdf) (PDF; 2,3MB)
Bundesministerium des Innern - Protokoll Inland, Retrieved January 2010.
2. "Frau Bundeskanzler" oder ... "Frau Bundeskanzlerin"? n-tv.de (http://www.n-tv.de/589342.html) Archived (ht
tps://web.archive.org/web/20090117011935/http://www.n-tv.de/589342.html) 17 January 2009 at the
Wayback Machine.

Further reading

Klein, Herbert, ed. 1993. The German Chancellors. Berlin: Edition.

Padgett, Stephen, ed. 1994. The Development of the German Chancellorship: Adenauer to Kohl.
London: Hurst.


Harlen, Christine M. 2002. "The Leadership Styles of the German Chancellors: From Schmidt to
Schrder." Politics and Policy 30 (2 (June)): 347371.
Helms, Ludger. 2001. "The Changing Chancellorship: Resources and Constraints Revisited." German
Politics 10 (2): 155168.
Mayntz, Renate. 1980. "Executive Leadership in Germany: Dispersion of Power or 'Kanzler
Demokratie'?" In presidents and Prime Ministers, ed. R. Rose and E. N. Suleiman. Washington, D.C:
American Enterprise Institute. pp.13971.
Smith, Gordon. 1991. "The Resources of a German Chancellor." West European Politics 14 (2): 48

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Categories: Chancellors of Germany Lists of political office-holders in Germany

1867 establishments in Germany

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