The German Chancellor is the country's Head of Government and the chairperson of its Cabinet. The Grundgesetz, according to the German constitution, empowers the Chancellor to initiate government policy. The Chancellor and the cabinet ministers constitute the Federal Government of Germany (Bundesregierung). The chancellor also is the leader of the political party (except for Helmut Schmidt), or the coalition of parties that gave him victory, and that he should have the majority seats in the Federal Parliament (Bundestag). The office of the chancellor of Germany dates back to the Holy Roman Empire which was usually held by the Archbishop of Mainz. The seat survived through the years Germany was under the North German Confederation (1867–1871), the German Empire (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1919–1933), the regime of Nazi Germany (1933–1945), and, finally, has been continued as the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany since 1949. The latter has included all of Germany since the dissolution of East Germany and reunification of the country in 1990.
Born on January 5, 1876, Konrad Herman became the first Chancellor of post-World War II Germany. Konrad led Germany from the ruins of the WWII and transformed a crushed economy to a productive and prosperous country. Konrad reformed post-war Germany to a democratic state. His most notable work include the establishment of a 12 week paid pregnant leave of 1952, employer child-funded allowances in 1954, the 1957 pension scheme of old age assistance system for agricultural workers, and the 1961 social welfare scheme that provided a safe net for the inadequately catered for people by social insurances. For 14 years Adenauer shaped Germany’s economy. He laid the foundations necessary for Germany to re-enter the community of developed nations and to help the economy grow and evolve as a dependable superpower and as a member of the Western World. The Berlin wall, constructed during his reign was the most significant setback in his reign. Konrad was forced to resign just before the end of his term for his involvement in an espionage scandal. His term ran from 1949 to 1963.
Ludwig Erhard was the 2nd Chancellor of West Germany, serving from 1963 to 1966. He came to power after the resignation of Adenauer. Erhard is famous for his leadership that led to recovery and development of a post-war economy. During his tenure as chancellor, Erhard reformed domestic policies which include compulsory education, more money spent on schools, and the education system standardized. In 1965 he introduced housing benefits and federally funded child allowances. He campaigned for the Germany reunification and supported the East Germany economy for political liberty of the divided country. Erhard was willing to buy East Germany from the Soviet Union. He believed that free trade and economic unity of Europe was the key to a successful political system. As such he joined forces with the US government in the liberation war of Vietnam and alienated with the French who did not have his ideology in heart. Ludwig faced a dangerous budget deficit in the economic year of 1966-1967 recessions and fell from power. He served as the Chancellor from 1963 to 1966.
Schmidt became the chancellor of West Germany when Brandt resigned on May 16, 1974 in the wake of an espionage scandal. He came to power during the worldwide economic recession and had to reform public and government policies. Schmidt reduced government spending to counteract the existing deficits and improved foreign relations with France. He and the president of France called the first World Economic Summit in 1975. Schmidt pursued monetary and fiscal policies to reduce unemployment. He managed to keep unemployment and budget deficits at low levels in the 1970s when most of the world struggled with crashing economies. However, towards the end of his term, Schmidt was forced to turn away from deficit spending and adapt to welfare expenditure cuts, such as those to child benefits, unemployment, and the healthcare system, in an effort of redeeming the country’s economy. Schmidt was removed from office when parliament approved a vote of no confidence and Helmut Kohl elected as the new chancellor. He served Germany as the Chancellor from 1974 to 982.
Born on July 17, 1954, Angela Merkel became the chancellor of Germany in 2005. She was a research scientist before entering politics at the onset of the Revolutions of 1989. Merkel then served as a deputy spokesperson of the East German Government in 1990. She became the chairperson of the Christian Democratic Union in 2000. Angela Merkel goes down in history as Germany first woman Chancellor after a grand coalition of her party with the Christian Social Union and the Social Democratic Party of Germany. She played a vital role in the Treaty of Lisbon negotiations and the Berlin Declaration. Angela Merkel also played a significant part in the management of the worldwide financial crisis. She reformed domestic policies in the health care sectors, energy development especially the over-reliance on Russian energy and refugee crisis. Forbes named Angela the most powerful woman in the world in 2016.
Being Germany's Most Powerful Person is a Serious Role
The chancellor of Germany is the most powerful position in the country. There are no formal restrictions on the terms a chancellor can serve. The chancellor is also required to command the armed forces in times of war. He or she is replaceable any time. Parliament can vote the chancellor out as was the case of Helmut Schmidt, or obliged to resign, as in the case of Konrad Adenauer, or leave when he or she fails in his or her duties, such as with Ludwig Erhard.
|Chancellors of the Federal Republic of Germany (including all of Germany since 1990)||Term in Office|
|Kurt Georg Kiesinger||1966-1969|
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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