Cabinet of Germany

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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

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

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 as an acting cabinet on the Presidents 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 eventually leaves the cabinet, another member of government has to take over his or her 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 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. 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 his or her 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 than has to form a new government (as yet, this has happened once: On 7 May 1974 Chancellor Willy Brandt resigned and declared his refusal to act as Chancellor until his successors 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 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

The current and 24th federal cabinet of Germany has been in office since 14 March 2018. It currently consists of the following ministers:

Protocol order[2] Office Image Incumbent Party In office Parliamentary State Secretaries[a]
Particular field of responsibilities (where applicable)
1 Bundesadler Bundesorgane.svg
Chancellor of Germany
Angela Merkel. Tallinn Digital Summit.jpg Angela Merkel CDU 22 November 2005 – present Annette Widmann-Mauz (StMin)
Migrants, Refugees and Integration
Monika Grütters (StMin)
Culture and Media
Hendrik Hoppenstedt (StMin)
Cooperation between federation and states
Dorothee Bär (StMin)
Digitalization
2 Bundesadler Bundesorgane.svg
Vice Chancellor of Germany
BMF Logo.svg
Federal Minister of Finance
Olaf Scholz - Deutscher Radiopreis 2016 01.jpg Olaf Scholz SPD 14 March 2018 – present Bettina Hagedorn
Christine Lambrecht
3 BMI Logo.svg
Federal Minister of the Interior, Building and Homeland
12-07-17-landtagsprojekt-bayern-RalfR-001.jpg Horst Seehofer CSU 14 March 2018 – present Günter Krings
Stephan Mayer
Marco Wanderwitz
4 Auswärtiges Amt Logo.svg
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs
2017-11-29-Heiko Maas-Maischberger-5685.jpg Heiko Maas SPD 14 March 2018 – present Niels Annen (StMin)
Michelle Müntefering (StMin)
Culture
Michael Roth (StMin)
European affairs
5 Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie Logo.svg
Federal Minister of Economics and Energy
2016-12-06 Peter Altmaier CDU Parteitag by Olaf Kosinsky-9.jpg Peter Altmaier CDU 14 March 2018 – present Thomas Bareiß
Christian Hirte
East German affairs
Oliver Wittke
6 Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz logo.svg
Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection
Katarina Barley-6824.jpg Katarina Barley SPD 14 March 2018 – present Rita Hagl-Kehl
Christian Lange
7 BMAS Logo.svg
Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
2017-06-25 Hubertus Heil by Olaf Kosinsky-4.jpg Hubertus Heil SPD 14 March 2018 – present Annette Kramme
Kerstin Griese
8 BMVG Logo.svg
Federal Minister of Defence
Ursula von der Leyen at NATO in Belgium - 2017 (38215863566) (cropped).jpg Ursula von der Leyen CDU 17 December 2013 – present Thomas Silberhorn
Peter Tauber
9 BMEL Logo.svg
Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture
CDU Kloeckner 0070.jpg Julia Klöckner CDU 14 March 2018 – present Hans-Joachim Fuchtel
Michael Stübgen
10 BMFSFJ Logo.svg
Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
Pressefoto von Franziska Giffey (cropped).jpg Franziska Giffey SPD 14 March 2018 – present Caren Marks
Stefan Zierke
11 BMG Logo.svg
Federal Minister of Health
2018-02-14 CDU Thüringen Politischer Aschermittwoch-5421.jpg Jens Spahn CDU 14 March 2018 – present Thomas Gebhardt
Sabine Weiss (de)
12 Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur Logo.svg
Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure
Scheuer Andreas 2017 by Studio Weichselbaumer.jpg Andreas Scheuer CSU 14 March 2018 – present Steffen Bilger
Enak Ferlemann
13 Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit Logo.svg
Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
2493ri SPD, Svenja Schulze.jpg Svenja Schulze SPD 14 March 2018 – present Florian Pronold
Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter
14 BMBF Logo.svg
Federal Minister of Education and Research
Karliczek, Anja-1612.jpg Anja Karliczek CDU 14 March 2018 – present Michael Meister
Thomas Rachel
15 BMZ Logo.svg
Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
Müller Gerd 2017 by Büro Dr. Gerd Müller.jpg Gerd Müller CSU 17 December 2013 – present Norbert Barthle
Maria Flachsbarth
16 DEgov-BKAmt-Logo.svg
Federal Minister for Special Affairs
Head of the Chancellery
Helge-Braun.jpg Helge Braun CDU 14 March 2018 – present
  1. ^ Some Parliamentary State Secretaries are awarded the honorary title Staatsminister (StMin, English: Minister of State) in order to underline the importance of their field of responsibilities. This title does not, however, confer upon them any additional powers.

See also

References

  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 (15 March 2018). "Liste der Bundesministerinnen und Bundesminister" [List of Federal Ministers]. Protokoll Inland der Bundesregierung (in German). German Federal Ministry of the Interior. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 

External links

  • Official English names of German ministers and ministries (German Foreign Office)
  • German cabinet website (in German)
  • German cabinet website (in English)
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