Federal Government

Die Bundesregierung Logo.svg
Logo of the Federal Government
Polity typeFederal parliamentary republic
ConstitutionBasic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
Formation15 September 1949; 73 years ago (1949-09-15)
Legislative branch
Meeting placeReichstag
Upper house
Lower house
Executive branch
Head of State
TitleFederal President
CurrentlyFrank-Walter Steinmeier
AppointerFederal Convention
Head of Government
TitleFederal Chancellor
CurrentlyOlaf Scholz
AppointerFederal President
NameFederal Government
LeaderFederal Chancellor
AppointerFederal President (on advice of the Federal Chancellor)
HeadquartersFederal Chancellery
Judicial branch
Federal Constitutional Court

The Federal Cabinet or Federal Government (German: Bundeskabinett or Bundesregierung) is the chief executive body of the Federal Republic of Germany. It consists of the Federal Chancellor and cabinet ministers. The fundamentals of the cabinet's organisation 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 Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (Grundgesetz).

In contrast to the system under the Weimar Republic, the Bundestag may only dismiss the Chancellor with a constructive vote of no confidence (electing a new Chancellor at the same time) and can thereby only choose to dismiss the Chancellor with their 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 their 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 them out of office, but allows the Chancellor, if they wish 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.

The Chancellor and the other members of the cabinet are allowed to be also members of the Bundestag (though they are not required to be).

Process of nomination and appointment

The Chancellor is elected by the federal parliament (Bundestag) on proposal of the President of Germany 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 2021, never happened), in which case the parliament may within 14 days hold further ballots and try to 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 fails to do so, a last ballot will be held on the 15th day (again the parties in the Bundestag may field candidates): If an individual is elected with the Chancellor-majority, the President must appoint them as Chancellor. 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 and call a snap election within 60 days.

Following their election in the Bundestag, the Chancellor-elect will visit Bellevue Palace, the residence of the President, to receive a certificate of appointment. This is the moment, the elected individual actually enters office. After this short appointment-ceremony, nig President will officially appoint the new cabinet members, again handing over certificates of appointment. After the ministers are appointed, they return to the Bundestag and take their oaths of office, completing the appointment-process.


The Chancellor is the 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, if they are replaced by a constructive vote of no confidence, or if the Chancellor 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 their ministers stay in office as an acting cabinet on the President's request, until the Bundestag has elected a new Chancellor. An acting cabinet and its members have (theoretically) the same powers as an ordinary cabinet, but the Chancellor may not ask the Bundestag for a motion of confidence or ask the President for the appointment of new ministers. If an acting minister leaves the cabinet, another member of government has to take over their department.

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 department himself, if he decides so. The Chancellor's 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. For example, the Minister of Defence is commander-in-chief during peacetime (only in wartime does 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 themselves. 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 their absence. In coalition governments the Vice Chancellor is usually the highest ranking minister of the second biggest coalition party. If the Chancellor dies or is unwilling or unable to act as Chancellor after the end of their term, until a new Chancellor has been elected, the Vice Chancellor becomes Acting Chancellor until the election of a new Chancellor by the Bundestag, who then has to form a new government. (To date, this has happened once: On 7 May 1974 Chancellor Willy Brandt resigned and declared his refusal to act as Chancellor until his successor's election. Vice Chancellor Walter Scheel was appointed as Acting Chancellor and served 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 Head 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 their absence the Vice Chancellor) are present. The cabinet regularly convenes on Wednesday mornings in the Chancellery.

According to established practice, decisions on important armaments exports are made by the Federal Security Council [de] (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

Main article: Scholz cabinet

The current and 24th federal cabinet of Germany (Scholz) has been in office since 8 December 2021. It currently consists of the following ministers:

Order[2] Office Portrait Minister Party Took office
Bundesadler Bundesorgane.svg

Sánchez se reunió con el nuevo canciller alemán Olaf Scholz en La Moncloa 20220117 (8) (cropped).jpg
Olaf Scholz SPD 8 December 2021
Bundesadler Bundesorgane.svg

Vice Chancellor
BMWi Logo 2021.svg

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action
2021-12-07 Unterzeichnung des Koalitionsvertrages der 20. Wahlperiode des Bundestages by Sandro Halank–018 (cropped).jpg
Robert Habeck Greens 8 December 2021
BMF Logo.svg

Federal Minister of Finance
2020-02-14 Christian Lindner (Bundestagsprojekt 2020) by Sandro Halank–2.jpg
Christian Lindner FDP 8 December 2021
BMI Logo.svg

Federal Minister of the Interior and Community
2019-01-18 Konstituierende Sitzung Hessischer Landtag SPD Faeser 3863 (cropped).jpg
Nancy Faeser SPD 8 December 2021
Auswärtiges Amt Logo.svg

Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs
Annalena Baerbock (2021) cropped.jpg
Annalena Baerbock Greens 8 December 2021
Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz logo.svg

Federal Minister of Justice
Marco Buschmann 2.jpg
Marco Buschmann FDP 8 December 2021
BMAS Logo.svg

Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
2020-07-02 Bundesminister Hubertus Heil by OlafKosinsky MG 1922.jpg
Hubertus Heil SPD 14 March 2018
BMVG Logo.svg

Federal Minister of Defence
2017-03-19 Lambrecht Roth SPD Parteitag by Olaf Kosinsky-3.jpg
Christine Lambrecht SPD 8 December 2021
BMEL Logo.svg

Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture
Hart aber fair - 2020-02-10-4295.jpg
Cem Özdemir Greens 8 December 2021
BMFSFJ Logo.svg

Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
2020-02-14 Lisa Paus (KPFC) 03 (cropped).jpg
Lisa Paus Greens 25 April 2022
BMG Logo.svg

Federal Minister of Health
MJK 67604 Karl Lauterbach (Bundestag 2020).jpg
Karl Lauterbach SPD 8 December 2021
BMDV 2021 Logo.svg

Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport
2020-08-18 Minister Volker Wissing by OlafKosinsky MG 3165.jpg
Volker Wissing FDP 8 December 2021
Bundesministerium fuer Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit Logo.svg

Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety, and Consumer Protection
WLP14-ri-0759- Steffi Lemke (Bündnis 90-Die Grünen).jpg
Steffi Lemke Greens 8 December 2021
BMBF Logo.svg

Federal Minister of Education and Research
2018-05-10 Bettina Stark-Watzinger-7710.jpg
Bettina Stark-Watzinger FDP 8 December 2021
BMZ Logo.svg

Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
2493ri SPD, Svenja Schulze.jpg
Svenja Schulze SPD 8 December 2021
BMWSB Logo.svg

Federal Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Building
16-03-09-Klara-Geywitz RR26591.jpg
Klara Geywitz SPD 8 December 2021

Federal Minister for Special Affairs &
Head of the Chancellery
Wolfgang Schmidt, Kimberly Emerson, and John B. Emerson, 4th of July 2014 (cropped).jpg
Wolfgang Schmidt SPD 8 December 2021

See also


  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.
  2. ^ German Chancellery (8 December 2021). "Liste der Bundesministerinnen und Bundesminister" [List of Federal Ministers]. Protokoll Inland der Bundesregierung (in German). German Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community. Retrieved 12 December 2021.