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A minister-president or minister president is the head of government in a number of European countries or subnational governments with a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government where he or she presides over the council of ministers. It is an alternative term for prime minister, premier, chief minister, or first minister and very similar to the title of president of the council of ministers.


In English-speaking countries, similar institutions may be called premiers or first ministers (typically at the subnational level) or prime ministers (typically at the national level). The plural is sometimes formed by adding an s to minister and sometimes by adding an s to president.

The term is used, for instance, as a translation (calque) of the German word Ministerpräsident,[1]


From 1867 to 1918, the first minister of the government was known as Ministerpräsident (minister-president), before that Staatskanzler (chancellor of state). Today the head of the Austrian Federal Government is called the Bundeskanzler (federal chancellor), while the head of a state government is called the Landeshauptmann (literally "state captain"), not Ministerpräsident.

See: List of Ministers-President of Austria.


The term minister-president (Dutch: minister-president, French: ministre-président, German: Ministerpräsident) is also used in Belgium to describe the head of government of a Belgian region or linguistic community, but not the head of the Belgian federal government who is referred to as the prime minister (Dutch: eerste minister, French: premier ministre, German: Premierminister).

According to the Belgian constitution, the federal prime minister is appointed by the king, and approved by the federal parliament with a vote of confidence (in practice the king usually appoints the leader of the winning party as "formateur" to form a government). The federal ministers later swear an oath of allegiance to the king. The ministers-president of the regions and linguistic communities are not appointed by the king, but are directly appointed by their respective parliament. Ministers of the regions and linguistic communities are not required to swear allegiance to the king but simply take an oath in their respective parliament.



Map of the governing minister-presidents by party:
  The Greens
  The Left

The Minister President is the head of state and government of a German state; the office roughly corresponds to the governor of a U.S. State and more closely to the Premier of an Australian state or Canadian province, as the constitutions of all sixteen German states currently stipulate a parliamentary system or more precisely a mixed parliamentary republican system similar for example to the constitutional order of South Africa: Despite minor differences between the single states with their constitutions, the Minister President has both the role of an executive leader (for example appointing and dismissing cabinet members and defining the political guidelines of the cabinet) and the typical powers and functions of a head of state (for example the power to grant pardons on behalf of the state and ceremonial duties). So his or her powers and functions are similar to those of an executive president, but in contrast to a presidential system he or she depends on the confidence of the respective state parliament.

So, the constitutional position of a Minister President differs from the one of the Chancellor of Germany at the federal level, who only holds the role of a chief executive leader, while the typical (more ceremonial) powers and functions of the head of state are performed by the President of Germany.

Ministers President of the German states are elected by their respective state parliaments and appoint ministers in their respective states (in six states the appointment of ministers is also subject to parliamentary approval), and determine policy guidelines.[2] Along with several of their ministers, they commonly represent their state in the Bundesrat (the German Federal Council). Each state government is represented in the Bundesrat by 3 to 6 delegates, depending on the state's population. By virtue of their position in the Bundesrat, they can exert considerable influence on national politics within the federal structure.

The seat of the Minister President is called Staatskanzlei (state chancellery) in all non-city-states except Baden-Württemberg, where it is called Staatsministerium (ministry of state).

In the three states Berlin, Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg the heads of the state and government hold different titles: Governing Mayor of Berlin, President of the Senate and Mayor of Bremen and First Mayor of Hamburg. The complicated title of the head of state of Bremen is due to the fact that he or she is constitutionally at the same time mayor of the city of Bremen (but not mayor of Bremerhaven, which is part of the state of Bremen but has its own mayor and municipal administration). So the title President of the Senate refers to his or her role as head of state and government, while the title Mayor refers to his or her role as a municipal mayor in one of the state's two cities. Their seat is called Senatskanzlei (senate chancellery). Despite this difference in terminology, however, the heads of government of these city-states hold roughly the same power and position as the Ministers President of the other German states.

In most states the deputy of the Minister President holds the title Deputy Minister President, Saxony-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein have a higher ranking First Deputy Minister President and a lower ranking Second Deputy Minister President. Berlin has two equally ranking Mayors deputizing for the Governing Mayor, Bremen has a Mayor deputizing for the President of the Senate and Mayor and Hamburg has a Second Mayor deputizing for the First Mayor.

The office of a Minister President is both highly prestigious in itself and a potential "career springboard" for a German politician. Four out of as yet eight Chancellors of Germany have been head of a state before becoming Chancellor:

Three out of as yet twelve Presidents of Germany have been head of a state before becoming President:

Many more Ministers President went on to become members of the federal government, EU institutions or associate judges of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany for example.

As yet, there have been six female heads of a German state:

As yet, one person has managed to become Minister President of two different states:

  • Bernhard Vogel, 4th Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate (1976-1988) and 2nd Minister President of Thuringia (1992-2003)
Portrait Name Title entered office Party Deputy
Coat of arms of Baden-Württemberg
Winfried Kretschmann 2012 (cropped).jpg Winfried Kretschmann 9th Minister President of Baden-Württemberg 12 May 2011 Alliance 90/The Greens Thomas Strobl
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Bavaria
Free State of Bavaria
Markus Soeder (cropped).jpg Markus Söder 13th Minister President of Bavaria 16 March 2018 CSU Ilse Aigner
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Berlin
2017-11-16 Michael Müller (Wiki Loves Parliaments 2017 in Berlin) by Sandro Halank.jpg Michael Müller 14th Governing Mayor of Berlin 11 December 2014 SPD Klaus Lederer
(The Left)
Ramona Pop
(Alliance 90/The Greens)
Coat of arms of Brandenburg
Dietmar Woidke M-0212 36139 Ausschnitt Color Hoffotografen (cropped).jpg Dietmar Woidke 3rd Minister President of Brandenburg 28 August 2013 SPD Christian Görke
(The Left)
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Bremen
Free Hanseatic City of Bremen
WLP14-ri-0559- Carsten Sieling (SPD).jpg Carsten Sieling 8th President of the Senate and Mayor of Bremen 15 July 2015 SPD Karoline Linnert
(Alliance 90/The Greens)
Coat of arms of Hamburg
Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg
Tschentscher, Peter - 1924 (cropped).jpg Peter Tschentscher 15th First Mayor of Hamburg 28 March 2018 SPD Katharina Fegebank
(Alliance 90/The Greens)
Second Mayor
Coat of arms of Hesse
MJK00898 Volker Bouffier.jpg Volker Bouffier 8th Minister President of Hesse 31 August 2010 CDU Tarek Al-Wazir
(Alliance 90/The Greens)
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony
Weil, Stephan.jpg Stephan Weil 12th Minister President of Lower Saxony 19 February 2013 SPD Bernd Althusmann
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Manuela Schwesig 2.jpg Manuela Schwesig 5th Minister President of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 4 July 2017 SPD Lorenz Caffier
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
2017-09-24 Armin Laschet by Sandro Halank.jpg Armin Laschet 11th Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia 27 June 2017 CDU Joachim Stamp
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Rhineland-Palatinate
WLP RLP 9648 Malu Dreyer.jpg Maria Luise "Malu" Dreyer 8th Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate 16 January 2013 SPD Volker Wissing
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Saarland
Tobias Hans-6779.jpg Tobias Hans 8th Minister President of Saarland 1 March 2018 CDU Anke Rehlinger
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Saxony
Free State of Saxony
Michael Kretschmer-v2 Pawel-Sosnowski - Querformat (cropped).jpg Michael Kretschmer 4th Minister President of Saxony 13 December 2017 CDU Martin Dulig
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Saxony-Anhalt
Reiner Haseloff (Martin Rulsch) 09.jpg Reiner Haseloff 6th Minister President of Saxony-Anhalt 19 April 2011 CDU Petra Grimm-Benne
First Deputy Minister President

Claudia Dalbert
(Alliance 90/The Greens)
Second Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Schleswig-Holstein
Daniel Günther (2017).jpg Daniel Günther 14th Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein 28 June 2017 CDU Monika Heinold
(Alliance 90/The Greens)
First Deputy Minister President

Hainer Garg
Second Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Thuringia
Free State of Thuringia
2011-05-18-landtagsprojekt-erfurt-070.jpg Bodo Ramelow 5th Minister President of Thuringia 15 December 2014 The Left Heike Taubert
Deputy Minister President
Otto von Bismarck, longest serving Minister President of Prussia

List of current Ministers-President posts

Abolished posts


The title of Hungary's head of government in Hungarian is miniszterelnök which literally translated means "minister-president". However, because "prime minister" or "premier" is the more usual title in a parliamentary system for a head of government in English-speaking nations, " miniszterelnök" is almost always translated as "prime minister."


In the Netherlands the prime minister is officially referred to as "minister-president", although the informal term "premier" is also frequently used. His responsibilities are defined in the constitution of 1848 as the "voorzitter van de ministerraad" (chair of the council of ministers). The title of minister-president has been in use since 1945 and officially added to the constitution in 1983.


In Norway, Vidkun Quisling, head of the collaborationist government from 1942 to 1945 during the German occupation in World War II, held the title of Minister-President (in Norwegian, ministerpresident).


In Spain, the head of government is known as "presidente del gobierno" or President of the Government but in English, he is more commonly referred to as the prime minister.


  1. ^ common nouns are capitalized in German, though they are sometimes lowercased when referred to in English texts.
  2. ^ Arthur B. Gunlicks: The Länder and German federalism: Issues in German politics. Manchester University Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0-7190-6533-0, p. 223.
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