Vice-Chancellor of Germany

Vice Chancellor of Germany
Stellvertreter des Bundeskanzlers
Bundesadler Bundesorgane.svg
Coat of arms of the German Government
Olaf Scholz - Deutscher Radiopreis 2016 01.jpg
Incumbent
Olaf Scholz

since 14 March 2018
Member of German cabinet
Reports to President of Germany
Formation 1 June 1878 (Empire)
24 May 1949 (Republic)
First holder Otto of Stolberg-Wernigerode (Empire)
Franz Blücher (Republic)

The Deputy to the Federal Chancellor (German: Stellvertreter des Bundeskanzlers), commonly known as Vice Chancellor, is the second highest ranking German cabinet member. The chancellor is the head of government and, according to the constitution, gives this title of deputy to one of the Federal Ministers. It is common that the title is given to the major minister provided by the (smaller) coalition partner.

In every day politics, being a vice chancellor is more an honorary title. The vice chancellor may head cabinet meetings when the chancellor is abroad. The function of vice chancellor is to use the specific constitutional powers of the chancellor in case that the chancellor is unable to perform her duties. This kind of substitution has never been made use of in the history of the Federal Republic.

Should a chancellor resign, die or be permanently unable to perform her duties, the vice chancellor does not automatically replace her. In such a case the Federal President assigns a minister to serve as acting chancellor until the Bundestag (parliament) elects a new chancellor.[1]).

Although Stellvertreter is the constitutional term, most Germans know the Deputy by the expression Vice Chancellor (Vizekanzler). Chancellor (Kanzler) is the traditional term for the German head of government since 1867/71. A general deputy has been introduced only in 1878 by law (Stellvertretungsgesetz). In the Weimar Republic of 1919-1933, the office of Vizekanzler was mentioned in the internal reglement of the government. The current office or title exists since the constitution of 1949.

The 18th and current Vice Chancellor of Germany is Olaf Scholz (SPD). He was appointed by Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) to the position on 14 March 2018 and also serves as the Federal Minister of Finance.

Office and appointment mechanism

The German cabinet consists of the Chancellor and the Federal Ministers. According to the Basic Law (Article 69.1), the Chancellor appoints one of the ministers as Vice Chancellor. In contrast to the appointment of a cabinet minister, there is no need for a formal appointment by the President. The appointment is an exclusive power of the Chancellor.

The Chancellor is theoretically free to choose his or her deputy. Nevertheless, a German government is usually based on a coalition of two or more parties and the Chancellor gives the title to a minister of the second largest coalition party upon recommendation of that party's leadership.

The German Vice Chancellor can be regarded as the equivalent of a deputy prime minister in other parliamentary systems. A very important difference to e.g. the Vice President in presidential systems of government is that the German Vice Chancellor is not the automatic successor of a Chancellor suddenly leaving office. The Deputy is thought only as a replacement for the current Chancellor.

A German cabinet exists only as long as the current Chancellor is in office. The end of a Chancellor's term in office (either by death or resignation or the first meeting of a newly elected Bundestag) automatically terminates the office of any minister. If this happens, the President of Germany appoints the former Chancellor or, if this is not possible, one of the former cabinet ministers (not necessarily, but most likely the former Vice Chancellor) as Acting Chancellor, until the parliament elects a new Chancellor.[2] When in 1974 Chancellor Willy Brandt resigned and refused to remain in office until his successor's election, President Gustav Heinemann ensured a corresponding precedent and appointed former Vice Chancellor Walter Scheel as Acting Chancellor.

The Basic Law does not state, who shall perform the Chancellor's powers and duties, if both the Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor are unable to do so. The German cabinet's rules of procedure state that in absence of both office-holders cabinet meetings shall be chaired by a cabinet member designated for this purpose by either the Chancellor or the Vice Chancellor or, if such a designation has not taken place or if the designee is not able to do so, by the present cabinet member with the longest uninterrupted membership in the federal government (§22.1).[3] It is however unclear, whether this provision extends to other powers of the office of Chancellor. In an expertise issued by the Bundestag's scientific service in 2014, the legal opinion is that this is the case.[4]

History

The office was initially established by the 1878 Stellvertretungsgesetz (Deputation Act), which provided for the Imperial Chancellor appointing a deputy, officially known as Allgemeiner Stellvertreter des Reichskanzlers (General Deputy to the Imperial Chancellor). In addition to the general deputy, who would be responsible for all the affairs of the Chancellor, the Chancellor could appoint deputies with limited responsibilities. The act was revised on 28 October 1918, when the possibility of appointing deputies with limited responsibilities was removed and the Vice-Chancellor was given the right to appear before parliament.[5]

In the Weimar Republic, the office was considered less important and was usually held by the minister of justice or the interior. The most known office holder is Franz von Papen, a former Chancellor who formed a coalition government of national socialists and conservatives. Adolf Hitler became Chancellor, and Papen Vice Chancellor. It became soon obvious that the position of Vice Chancellor provided no powers and was unsuited to constrain Hitler.

In the Federal Republic (since 1949), the Chancellors have had no interest in allowing the Deputy to use the title for self promotion.[6] Since 1966 it became customary that the coalition partner of the governing party received the ministry of the exterior who was also appointed Deputy. The ministry of the exterior was considered to be the most important cabinet post besides the Chancellorship. This tradition faded away in the time of Merkel's office, partially, because political heavyweights of the coalition partner chose a different ministry for personal preference.

Lists of Vice Chancellors

German Empire (Allgemeiner Stellvertreter des Reichskanzlers)

Political Party:   FKP   FVP

# Portrait Name Birth Death Term start Age start Term end Age end Days Party Portfolio Cabinet
1 Ottosw.jpg Otto zu Stolberg-Wernigerode 30 October 1837 19 November 1896 1 June 1878 40 20 June 1881 43 1115 FKP Bismarck
2 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1981-127-06A, Karl-Heinrich von Boetticher.jpg Karl Heinrich von Boetticher 6 January 1833 6 March 1907 20 June 1881 48 1 July 1897 64 5855 FKP Secretary of State for the Interior Bismarck
Caprivi
Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst
3 Nicola Perscheid - Arthur von Posadowsky-Wehner.jpg Arthur von Posadowsky-Wehner 3 June 1845 23 October 1932 1 July 1897 52 24 June 1907 62 3644 FKP Secretary of State for the Interior Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst
Bülow
4 Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg.jpg Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg 29 November 1856 1 January 1921 24 June 1907 50 14 July 1909 52 751 Independent Secretary of State for the Interior Bülow
5 Delbrück, Clemens von (1856-1921).jpg Clemens von Delbrück 19 January 1856 17 December 1921 14 July 1909 53 22 May 1916 60 2501 Independent Secretary of State for the Interior Bethmann-Hollweg
7 Karl Helfferich.jpg Karl Helfferich 22 July 1872 23 April 1924 22 May 1916 43 9 November 1917 45 536 Independent Secretary of State for the Interior (until 23 October 1917) Bethmann-Hollweg
Michaelis
Hertling
8 Friedrich von Payer.jpg Friedrich von Payer 12 June 1847 14 July 1931 9 November 1917 70 10 November 1918 71 366 FVP Hertling
Baden
Ebert

Weimar Republic (Allgemeiner Stellvertreter des Reichskanzlers)

Political Party:   DDP   Centre   DVP   SPD   DNVP

# Portrait Name Birth Death Term start Age start Term end Age end Days Party Portfolio Cabinet
1 Eugen Schiffer (1919).jpg Eugen Schiffer 14 February 1860 5 September 1954 13 February 1919 58 19 April 1919 59 65 DDP Deputy Minister-President / Minister of Finance Scheidemann
2 Bundesarchiv Bild 102-12088, Bernhard Dernburg.jpg Bernhard Dernburg 17 July 1865 14 October 1937 30 April 1919 53 20 June 1919 53 51 DDP Deputy Minister-President / Minister of Finance Scheidemann
3 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1989-072-16, Matthias Erzberger.jpg Matthias Erzberger 20 September 1875 26 August 1921 21 June 1919 43 3 October 1919 44 104 Centre Deputy Minister-President (until 14 August 1919) / Minister of Finance Bauer
4 Eugen Schiffer (1919).jpg Eugen Schiffer 14 February 1860 5 September 1954 3 October 1919 59 27 March 1920 60 176 DDP Minister of Justice Bauer
5 Erich Koch-Weser, Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1986-014-10, Kabinett Müller (cropped).jpg Erich Koch-Weser 26 February 1875 19 October 1944 27 March 1920 45 21 June 1920 45 86 DDP Minister of the Interior Müller I
6 Dr. Rudolf Heinze.jpg Rudolf Heinze 22 July 1865 26 May 1928 25 June 1920 54 4 May 1921 55 313 DVP Minister of Justice Fehrenbach
7 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-J0113-0500-001, Gustav Bauer.jpg Gustav Bauer 6 January 1870 16 September 1944 10 May 1921 51 14 November 1922 52 553 SPD Minister of Finance Wirth I
Wirth II
8 Robert Schmidt (politician).jpg Robert Schmidt 15 May 1864 16 September 1943 13 August 1923 59 3 November 1923 59 82 SPD Minister for Reconstruction Stresemann I
9 Bundesarchiv Bild 102-01175, Karl Jarres.jpg Karl Jarres 21 September 1874 20 October 1951 30 November 1923 49 15 December 1924 50 381 DVP Minister of the Interior Marx I
Marx II
10 Oskar Hergt.jpg Oskar Hergt 22 October 1869 9 May 1967 28 January 1927 57 12 June 1928 58 501 DNVP Minister of Justice Marx IV
11 Bundesarchiv Bild 102-10015, Robert Hermann Dietrich.jpg Hermann Dietrich 14 December 1879 6 March 1954 30 March 1930 50 30 May 1932 52 792 DDP Minister of Finance (from 26 June 1930) Brüning I
Brüning II

Nazi Germany

Political Party:   NSDAP

# Portrait Name Birth Death Term start Age start Term end Age end Days Party Other positions Cabinet
1 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-S00017, Franz von Papen crop.jpg Franz von Papen 29 October 1879 2 May 1969 30 January 1933 53 7 August 1934 54 554 Non-partisan Reichskommissar of Prussia (until 10 April 1933) Hitler

Federal Republic of Germany

Political Party:   FDP   CDU   SPD   Green

# Portrait Name Birth Death Term start Age start Term end Age end Days Party Portfolio Cabinet
1 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-P001512, Franz Blücher 2.jpg Franz Blücher 24 March 1896 26 March 1959 20 September 1949 53 29 October 1957 61 2961 FDP/FVP Marshall Plan (1949-1953) / Economic Cooperation (1953-1957) Adenauer I • II
2 Einde bezoek bondskanselier dr Ludwig Erhard en gaf persconferentie in het Haag, Bestanddeelnr 916-1330.jpg Ludwig Erhard 4 February 1897 5 May 1977 29 October 1957 60 16 October 1963 66 2178 CDU Economic Affairs Adenauer III • IV • V
3 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-87989-0060, Erich Mende.jpg Erich Mende 28 October 1916 6 May 1998 17 October 1963 46 28 October 1966 50 1107 FDP Intra-German Relations Erhard I • II
4 KAS-Seebohm, Hans-Christoph-Bild-628-1.jpg Hans-Christoph Seebohm 4 August 1903 17 September 1967 8 November 1966 63 30 November 1966 63 22 CDU Transport Erhard II
5 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F057884-0009, Willy Brandt.jpg Willy Brandt 18 December 1913 8 October 1992 1 December 1966 52 20 October 1969 55 1054 SPD Foreign Affairs Kiesinger I
6 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1989-047-20, Walter Scheel.jpg Walter Scheel 8 July 1919 24 August 2016 21 October 1969 50 16 May 1974 54 1668 FDP Foreign Affairs Brandt III
7 Hans-Dietrich Genscher (1989).jpg Hans-Dietrich Genscher 21 March 1927 31 March 2016 17 May 1974 47 17 September 1982 55 3045 FDP Foreign Affairs Schmidt III • III
8 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F048636-0022, Dortmund, SPD-Parteitag, Egon Franke.jpg Egon Franke 11 April 1913 26 April 1995 17 September 1982 69 1 October 1982 69 14 SPD Intra-German Relations Schmidt III
9 Hans-Dietrich Genscher (1989).jpg Hans-Dietrich Genscher 21 March 1927 31 March 2016 1 October 1982 55 17 May 1992 65 3516 FDP Foreign Affairs Kohl IIIIIIIV
10 Jürgen Möllemann 2002 (cropped).jpeg Jürgen Möllemann 15 July 1945 5 June 2003 18 May 1992 46 21 January 1993 47 248 FDP Economic Affairs Kohl IV
11 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F063645-0024, Pullach, Besuch Carstens beim BND.jpg Klaus Kinkel 17 December 1936 4 March 2019 21 January 1993 56 26 October 1998 61 2104 FDP Foreign Affairs Kohl IVV
12 Joschka Fischer.jpg Joschka Fischer 12 April 1948 27 October 1998 50 22 November 2005 57 2583 Green Foreign Affairs Schröder III
13 FranzMüntefering mw1.jpg Franz Müntefering 16 January 1940 22 November 2005 65 21 November 2007 67 729 SPD Labour and Social Affairs Merkel I
14 Frank-Walter Steinmeier Feb 2014 (cropped).jpg Frank-Walter Steinmeier 5 January 1956 21 November 2007 51 27 October 2009 53 706 SPD Foreign Affairs Merkel I
15 Guido westerwelle.jpg Guido Westerwelle 27 December 1961 18 March 2016 28 October 2009 47 16 May 2011 49 565 FDP Foreign Affairs Merkel II
16 Roesler-klein.jpg Philipp Rösler 24 February 1973 16 May 2011 38 17 December 2013 40 946 FDP Economic Affairs Merkel II
17 Sigmar Gabriel (2013).jpg Sigmar Gabriel 12 September 1959 17 December 2013 54 14 March 2018 58 1548 SPD Economic Affairs (2013-2017) / Foreign Affairs (2017-2018) Merkel III
18 Olaf Scholz - Deutscher Radiopreis 2016 01.jpg Olaf Scholz 14 June 1958 14 March 2018 59 Incumbent Incumbent 929 SPD Finance Merkel IV

References

  1. ^ Ute Mager, in: von Münch/Kunig: Grundgesetz-Kommentar II, 5. Auflage 2001, Rn. 10/11 zu Art. 69.
  2. ^ Georg Hermes, in: Horst Dreier (Hrsg.) Grundgesetz-Kommentar, Band 2, 2. Auflage 2006, Art. 69, Rn. 7, 17-19.
  3. ^ https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/themen/geschaeftsordnung-der-bundesregierung-459846
  4. ^ Wissenschaftlicher Dienst des Bundestages. Sachstand. Vertretungsregelungen für das Amt des Bundeskanzlers und des Bundespräsidenten (AZ: WD 3-3000-016/14), p. 3–4.
  5. ^ "Gesetz, betreffend die Stellvertretung des Reichskanzlers ["Stellvertretungsgesetz"] (17.03.1878)". www.documentarchiv.de (in German). Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  6. ^ Roman Herzog, in: Maunz/Dürig: Kommentar zum Grundgesetz, 2008, Art. 69, Rn. 9.

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