German chancellor

In Germany and Austria, the Federal Chancellor or Chancelloress is the head of the federal government. This is the government of the whole state, not only of one federal state. In Switzerland there is also a Federal Chancellor. There, however, he is not a member of the government, but a civil servant who supports the government.

The German Chancellor selects the Federal Ministers and determines "the guidelines of the policy". This makes the chancellor the most important politician. He is elected by the Bundestag, the parliament. Olaf Scholz has been Federal Chancellor since December 2021.

In Austria, the Federal President may appoint the Federal Chancellor. So the chancellor is not elected by the National Council, the parliament. However, the Federal President usually appoints someone trusted by the National Council. Because the chancellor has to work a lot with the National Council to get things through.

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How to become German Chancellor?

When a new Bundestag has been elected, the Federal President must propose a candidate to the Bundestag. The candidate becomes chancellor only if the majority of the members of the Bundestag vote for him or her. Majority means that more members vote for the candidate than against him or her.

It is also possible for the Bundestag to vote the chancellor out of office. But this is only possible if more than half of all members of the Bundestag want to do so. In addition, the Bundestag must elect a new chancellor at the same time, so that the country does not have suddenly no more chancellor.

Normally, you only become chancellor if you are a member of a political party. The party is an association with members who think similarly about what should happen in the country. If a party thinks of someone that he could be a good chancellor, it helps him to be known and liked by the voters. If that party gets the most votes in a federal election, it is likely that the Bundestag will elect that party’s candidate as chancellor.

What are the duties of a German Chancellor?

The federal government meets from time to time and decides much of what should happen in Germany. The Chancellor chairs these meetings. Normally, federal ministers alone are allowed to decide what they consider to be right in their field of expertise. If a matter is very important, then the federal ministers decide together. But a chancellor can also say that he decides for himself. However, a chancellor will only do this very rarely if he does not want the federal ministers to eventually be against him.

Above all, a chancellor has to talk to many people: voters, federal ministers, people from his own party, experts and many others. In this way, the chancellor learns what the people in the country think and want. He also makes speeches and calls attention to problems that are important to him.

The Federal Chancellor works in the Federal Chancellery. There are also his staff, who help him to keep an overview. Since 2001 the Federal Chancellery is in the same building in Berlin.

Who has been German Chancellor so far?

Since 1867, the heads of government in Germany have been called Chancellor or Reich Chancellor. The word "chancellor" comes from "chancellery", which was in the Middle Ages the place where important documents were kept. The chancellor was the one who led such a chancellery.

Since 1949 there is the Federal Republic of Germany. First Chancellor was Konrad Adenauer, an already very old man, who was before among other things mayor of Cologne. After him, Ludwig Erhard and Kurt Georg Kiesinger served as chancellors, each for only a few years. These three chancellors were all members of the CDU party.

In 1969, Willy Brandt became chancellor, a politician from the SPD. The last time someone from this party was Chancellor of the Reich was forty years ago. Brandt was succeeded as chancellor by Helmut Schmidt. Schmidt was also a member of the SPD.

Helmut Kohl of the CDU has been Chancellor since 1982. During his term, Germany was reunified, in 1990. Nobody was chancellor as long as Kohl, only after 16 years there was a new chancellor, Gerhard Schroder from the SPD. From 2005 to 2021, Angela Merkel of the CDU was Chancellor of Germany, the first woman to hold this office. On 8. December 2021, the Bundestag elected SPD politician Olaf Scholz as the ninth German Chancellor.

Where do the Federal Chancellors work?

In Germany there is a Federal Chancellery. In the building is the study of the Chancellor. Besides, many other people work there for the government. These people prepare, for example, a trip of the Chancellor, or they write a speech for her. In the Federal Chancellery you will also find a room where the federal government meets.

The Federal Chancellery of today is in Berlin. It is a long building from the time when Berlin became the German capital again, after the reunification. Before that, chancellors worked in Bonn. At first the Palais Schaumburg was the Federal Chancellery there. When it was found to be too small, a new Federal Chancellery was built in Bonn.

In Austria there is also a Federal Chancellery. The Austrian Chancellor works at the Ballhausplatz in Vienna. That’s why the Federal Chancellery is called "Ballhausplatz" for short. This building is much older than the one in Berlin: It was built over 300 years ago.

In the German chancellor’s office there is a room, in which the chancellor can spend the night sometimes. Actually, the Chancellor has a normal apartment in Berlin or another city. Things were different in the former German capital of Bonn, where the chancellors lived in an apartment just for chancellors. They called it the chancellor’s bungalow. Also in Austria, the chancellor has his own apartment elsewhere in the city.

The Palais Schaumburg: It was the first official residence of a Federal Chancellor in Bonn in North Rhine-Westphalia.

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