Cabinet of Germany

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Coat of arms of Germany.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Germany
Foreign relations

The Cabinet of Germany (German: Bundeskabinett or Bundesregierung) is the chief executive body of the Federal Republic of Germany. It consists of the Chancellor and the cabinet ministers, the fundamentals of the cabinet's organization as well as the method of its election and appointment as well as the procedure for its dismissal are set down in articles 62 through 69 of the Grundgesetz (the Basic Law).

In contrast to the system under the Weimar Republic, the Bundestag may only dismiss the Chancellor with constructive vote of no-confidence (electing a new Chancellor at the same time) and can thereby only choose to dismiss the Chancellor with his or her entire cabinet and not simply individual ministers. These procedures and mechanisms were put in place by the authors of the Basic Law to both prevent another dictatorship and to ensure that there will not be a political vacuum left by the removal of Chancellor through a vote of confidence and the failure to elect a new one in his or her place, as had happened during the Weimar period with the Reichstag removing Chancellors but failing to agree on the election of a new one.

If the Chancellor loses a simple confidence motion (without the election of a new Chancellor by the Bundestag), this does not force him or her out of office, but allows the Chancellor, if he wishes to do so, to ask the President of Germany for the dissolution of the Bundestag, triggering a snap election within 60 days (this happened in 1972, 1983 and 2005), or to ask the President to declare a legislative state of emergency, which allows the cabinet to use a simplified legislative procedure, in which bills proposed by the cabinet only need the consent of the Bundesrat (as yet, this has never been applied). The President is however not bound to follow the Chancellor's request in both cases.

Nomination[edit]

The Chancellor is elected by the federal parliament (Bundestag) after being proposed by the President with a majority of all members of the Bundestag (Chancellor-majority). However, the Bundestag is free to disregard the President's proposal (which has, as of 2017, never happened), in which case the parliament must within 14 days elect another individual, which the parties in the Bundestag can now propose themselves, to the post with the same so called Chancellor-majority, whom the President is then obliged to appoint. If the Bundestag doesn't manage to do so, on the 15th day after the first ballot the Bundestag must hold one last ballot: If an individual is elected with the Chancellor-majority, the President is obliged to appoint him or her. If not, the President is free to either appoint the individual, who received a plurality of votes on this last ballot, as Chancellor or to dissolve the Bundestag.

Following the election, the Chancellor is appointed by the President, the ministers are appointed (and dismissed) by the President upon proposal of the Chancellor. On taking office the Chancellor and ministers swear an oath in front of the parliament.

Functioning[edit]

The Chancellor is Germany's chief executive leader. Therefore, the whole cabinet's tenure is linked to the Chancellor's tenure: The Chancellor's (and the cabinet's) term automatically ends, if a newly elected Bundestag sits for the first time, or if he or she is replaced by a constructive vote of no confidence, resigns or dies. Nevertheless, apart from the case of a constructive vote of no confidence, which by nature instantly invests a new Chancellor (and a new cabinet), the Chancellor and his or her ministers stay in office acting, until the Bundestag has elected a new Chancellor.

The Chancellor is responsible for guiding the cabinet and deciding its political direction (Richtlinienkompetenz). According to the principle of departmentalization (Ressortprinzip), the cabinet ministers are free to carry out their duties independently within the boundaries set by the Chancellor's political directives, the Chancellor may at any time ask the President to dismiss a minister or to appoint a new minister; the President's appointment is only a formality, he may not refuse a Chancellors request for dismissal or appointment of a minister. The Chancellor also decides the scope of each minister's duties and can at his own discretion nominate ministers heading a department and so called ministers for special affairs without an own department, he can also lead a departmend himself, if he decides so. The Chancellors freedom to shape his cabinet is only limited by some constitutional provisions: The Chancellor has to appoint a Minister of Defence, a Minister of Economic Affairs and a Minister of Justice and is implicitly forbidden to head one of these departments himself, as the constitution invests these ministers with some special powers: The Minister of Defence is commander-in-chief during peacetime (only in wartime the Chancellor becomes supreme commander), the Minister of Economic Affairs may veto decisions by the Federal Cartel Office and the Minister of Justice appoints and dismisses the Public Prosecutor General. If two ministers disagree on a particular point, the cabinet resolves the conflict by a majority vote (Kollegialprinzip or principle of deference) or the Chancellor decides the case himself, this often depends on the Chancellor's governing style.

The Chancellor has to appoint one of the cabinet ministers as Vice Chancellor, who may deputise for the Chancellor in his or her absence. If the Chancellor resigns or dies, the Vice Chancellor acts as Chancellor until the election of a new Chancellor by the Bundestag, who than has to form a new government (as yet, this has happened once: On 7 May 1974 Chancellor Willy Brandt resigned and Vice Chancellor Walter Scheel acted as Chancellor until the election of Helmut Schmidt on 16 May).

The Chancellor is in charge of the government's administrative affairs, which are usually delegated to the Chief of staff of the Chancellery, who is usually also appointed as minister for special affairs. Details are laid down in the government's rules for internal procedures (Geschäftsordnung), these state, for example, that the cabinet is quorate only if at least half of the ministers including the chair (the Chancellor or in his or her absence the Vice Chancellor) are present. The cabinet regularly convenes Wednesday mornings in the Chancellery.

According to established practice, decisions on important armaments exports are made by the Federal Security Council (Bundessicherheitsrat), a cabinet committee chaired by the Chancellor. Pursuant to its (classified) rules of procedure, its sessions are confidential. According to practice, the Federal Government presents an annual report on arms exports, which contains statistical information on export permits issued and gives figures for the types of arms concerned as well as their destination, as a general rule, the Federal Government, if asked, is required to inform the Bundestag that the Federal Security Council has approved a given armaments export transaction or not.[1]

Present German cabinet[edit]

The current federal cabinet (in office since 17 December 2013), consists of the following ministers:

Office Image Incumbent Party In office
Chancellor Angela-Merkel-2014.jpg Angela Merkel CDU 22 November 2005 – present
Vice Chancellor
Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs
2015-12 Sigmar Gabriel SPD Bundesparteitag by Olaf Kosinsky-63.jpg Sigmar Gabriel SPD 17 December 2013 – present
(until 27 January 2017 as Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy)
Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy WLP14-ri-0279- Brigitte Zypries (SPD).jpg Brigitte Zypries SPD 27 January 2017 – present
Federal Minister of the Interior Unterzeichnung des Koalitionsvertrages der 18. Wahlperiode des Bundestages (Martin Rulsch) 142.jpg Thomas de Maizière CDU 17 December 2013 – present
Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection 2017-03-26 Heiko Maas by Sandro Halank–4.jpg Heiko Maas SPD 17 December 2013 – present
Federal Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schaeuble 02.jpg Wolfgang Schäuble CDU 28 October 2009 – present
Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Unterzeichnung des Koalitionsvertrages der 18. Wahlperiode des Bundestages (Martin Rulsch) 110 (cropped).jpg Andrea Nahles SPD 17 December 2013 – present
Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Christian Schmidt (CSU) 2011.jpg Christian Schmidt CSU 17 February 2014 – present
Federal Minister of Defence Vonderleyen 2014 bundesverteidigungsministerin.JPG Ursula von der Leyen CDU 17 December 2013 – present
Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Katarina Barley Katarina Barley SPD 2 June 2017 – present
Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe 2010.jpg Hermann Gröhe CDU 17 December 2013 – present
Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure Unterzeichnung des Koalitionsvertrages der 18. Wahlperiode des Bundestages (Martin Rulsch) 104.jpg Alexander Dobrindt CSU 17 December 2013 – present
Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety Unterzeichnung des Koalitionsvertrages der 18. Wahlperiode des Bundestages (Martin Rulsch) 141 (cropped).jpg Barbara Hendricks SPD 17 December 2013 – present
Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka MWK 2.jpg Johanna Wanka CDU 14 February 2013 – present
Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller.JPG Gerd Müller CSU 17 December 2013 – present
Federal Minister for Special Affairs
Chief of Staff of the Chancellery
Peter Altmaier.jpg Peter Altmaier CDU 17 December 2013 – present

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [2 BvE 5/11, Judgment of 21 October 2014: Right of Bundestag Members to be Informed of Exports of Military Equipment After the Federal Security Council Grants Permits] Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, Press Release No. 91/2014 of 21 October 2014.

External links[edit]

External links[edit]