Chancellor of Germany (1949–present)

Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
Bundeskanzler(in) der Bundesrepublik Deutschland  (German)
Angela Merkel. Tallinn Digital Summit.jpg
Angela Merkel

since 22 November 2005
StyleMadam Chancellor
Her Excellency
Member ofCabinet
European Council
SeatFederal Chancellery, Berlin, Germany (primary)
Palais Schaumburg, Bonn, Germany (secondary)
AppointerThe Federal President
In accordance with a vote in the Bundestag
Term lengthNone
The chancellor's term of office ends when a new Bundestag (German Parliament) convenes for its first meeting,[1] i.e. usually 4 years (unlimited during state of defence)
Constituting instrumentBasic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
First holderKonrad Adenauer

The Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (in German called Bundeskanzler(in), meaning 'Federal Chancellor', or Kanzler(in) for short) is, under the German 1949 Constitution, the head of government of Germany. Historically, the office has evolved from the office of chancellor (German: Kanzler, later Reichskanzler, meaning 'Chancellor of the Realm') that was originally established in the North German Confederation in 1867.

The 1949 Constitution increased the role of the chancellor compared to the 1919 Weimar Constitution by making the chancellor much more independent of the influence of the President and granting the chancellor the right to set the guidelines for all policy areas, thus making the chancellor the real chief executive.[2] The role is generally comparable to that of a prime minister in other parliamentary democracies.

The 8th and current Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany is Angela Merkel, who was elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009, 2013 and 2018. She is the first female chancellor since the establishment of the original office in 1867 and is known in German as Bundeskanzlerin, the feminine form of Bundeskanzler. Merkel is also the first chancellor elected since the fall of the Berlin Wall to have been raised in the former East Germany.

History of position

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The office of chancellor has a long history, stemming back to the Holy Roman Empire. The title was at times used in several states of German-speaking Europe. The power and influence of this office varied strongly over time. Otto von Bismarck in particular had a great amount of power, but it was not until 1949 that the chancellor was established as the central executive authority of Germany.

Due to his administrative tasks, the head of the chapel of the imperial palace during the Holy Roman Empire was called chancellor. The Archbishop of Mainz was German chancellor until the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 while the Archbishop of Cologne was Chancellor of Italy and the Archbishop of Trier of Burgundy. These three Archbishops were also Prince-electors of the empire. Already in medieval times the chancellor had political power like Willigis of Mainz (Archchancellor 975–1011, regent for Otto III 991–994) or Rainald von Dassel (chancellor 1156–1162 and 1166–1167) under Frederick I.

The modern office of chancellor was established with the North German Confederation, of which Otto von Bismarck became chancellor of the Confederation (official German title: Bundeskanzler) in 1867. After unification of Germany in 1871, the office became known in German as Reichskanzler ("Reich Chancellor", literally "Chancellor of the Realm"). Since the adoption of the current constitution of Germany (the "Basic Law" or "Grundgesetz") in 1949 the formal title of the office is once again Bundeskanzler (Federal Chancellor).

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 (Ministerpräsident) or Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the GDR (Vorsitzender des Ministerrats der DDR). (See Leaders of East Germany.)

See the article Chancellor for the etymology of the word.