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Germany: What is the role of the President in relation to the Chancellor?


Social Democrat Frank-Walter Steinmeier is due to be re-elected on Sunday as President of the Federal Republic of Germany. An honorary function but highly respected in the country.

The president is chosen by the Federal Assembly, an electoral college made up of the 736 deputies of the Bundestag and the same number of representatives of the 16 German Länder (deputies from regional parliaments or personalities from civil society).

At least 40 years old, the German president is elected for a five-year term, renewable once.

His powers are above all ceremonial, the conduct of the country being reserved for the chancellor. Considered a moral guardian authority of the German constitution (known as the “Basic Law”), he promulgates laws and ensures their constitutionality.

Dissolution of the Bundestag

It is also he who appoints the Chancellor or Chancellor, in accordance with the vote of the deputies. As Head of State, he represents Germany abroad and signs international treaties.

Finally, the Federal President can dissolve the Bundestag in two very specific cases: if the deputies fail to elect a Chancellor or if the Chancellor in office loses a vote of confidence.

This has happened three times since the birth of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, the last time in 2005.