Will Chancellor Merkel win re-election in Germany?

Chancellor

The intellectual and institutional conception of the → Basic Law was strongly influenced by the reflection on the defects and omissions of the past. The Bonn Basic Law clearly bears traits of an "anti-constitution" (F. K. Fromme) both against the Weimar Republic and against the Nazi dictatorship. Both negative experiences of a past that have just been overcome are having an effect, and the members of the Parliamentary Council wanted to take precautions against both threats. And so, at the cradle of the Bonn Basic Law, there were two types of concern: on the one hand, fear of the state, its institutional stability and functionality, and, on the other hand, fear of its legally and institutionally untamed and controlled totalitarian omnipotence.

One of the striking points at which the difference between the Weimar and Bonn Constitutions is particularly clear is the position of the Chancellor. The position of the Weimar Reich Chancellor - and not just that of the "Presidential Governments" after 1930 - cannot even come close to being compared with that of the Bonn Federal Chancellors (Bk). The Weimar Republic was not yet - in the full sense of the term - a "parliamentary system of government". Although parliament exercised important control functions, it was not yet the unrestricted "creative organ" of the government. The Reich government, in the form of each individual minister, was dependent on the confidence of Parliament, but in the event of a conflict over the emergency ordinance law of Article 48, it could be held in office by the powerful President, who was directly elected by the people for seven years, even against the parliamentary vote. Between an overpowering president on the one hand and an increasingly responsible, escapist parliament on the other, the chancellor and cabinet could never find their own location.

The Bk. And → Federal Government are completely free from the stigma of such impairments and deficits in legitimizing. Unlike the Weimar Reich government, which is constitutionally dependent on the President and Parliament, the Bonn Federal Government, with the Bk. At its head, has developed into the strongest constitutional organ. For the first time in German constitutional history, that close interaction between government and parliamentary majority, which is typical of the parliamentary system of government, was possible, which is also expressed in the fact that the head of government is usually, as in England, also the party chairman of the ruling party.

In Art. 65, Paragraph 1, the Basic Law adopts almost literally the provision of Art. 56 WRV: "The Bk. Determines the guidelines of politics". But only under the institutional political framework of the Basic Law does the authority to issue guidelines come into play: Only here does the political fate of each individual Federal Minister depend directly and exclusively on the head of government. Art. 64 GG regulates briefly and succinctly: "The Federal Ministers are appointed and dismissed by the → Federal President on the proposal of the Bk." Only the Bk. Itself has direct responsibility towards the → Bundestag. In the last instance, every federal minister depends on the confidence of the Bk. This vouches for his outstanding position vis-à-vis his cabinet colleagues. He is not only primus inter pares, but has a predominant position. It was not without good reason that people had already spoken of Bonn's "chancellor democracy" in the 1950s with a view to Adenauer's chancellorship. Even if this initially had a negative undertone, there is now a broad consensus among the commentators that the lessons the Constitutional Fathers drew from the failure of the first German attempt at democracy in Weimar were correct: that the Chancellor's strong position was essential to the stability of the Government contributes and that this in turn is the indispensable prerequisite for successful governance at all.

It is the consequence of this insight that the GG exposes the chancellor principle to the cabinet and departmental principle as the decisive principle. The Chancellor decides the policy guidelines "and is responsible for them" (Art. 65). "Within these guidelines" - that is what the "departmental principle" means - "every federal minister manages his area of ​​responsibility independently and under his own responsibility" (Art. 65). The sole responsibility of the BC therefore by no means completely supersedes and superimposes the individual ministerial responsibility towards parliament. And the traditional principle of collegial cabinet decisions has not completely disappeared: "The federal government decides on differences of opinion between the federal ministers" (Art. 65) - this is the brief reference in the Basic Law to the coordination and regulation function of the federal cabinet headed by the Federal Cabinet. Nevertheless, the chancellor principle is decisive in this closely interlinked system of competing principles, because it is only reinforced with constitutional sanctioning power (ministerial dismissal).

But decisive for the strong position of the BC in the parallelogram of constitutional forces is the constitutional innovation of Article 67: the "constructive vote of no confidence", which clearly limits the only negative, destabilizing power of parliament. It fixes the → MPs, the → parliamentary groups and the → parties involved in a "constructive" role in the election of the head of government by preventing those spurious majorities that might come together to overthrow a government but not to appoint a new one : Only if the Bundestag elects a new Bk. With a majority of its members can it express its distrust of the old one. The parliamentary replacement of a Bk. Within the legislative period is made so much more difficult that it is actually only possible through a formal change in the coalition preference of one of the governing parties. However, in its endeavors to strengthen the position of the Bk., The Parliamentary Council has deliberately refused the last consequence: unlike the English Prime Minister, the German Bk. Does not have the immediate possibility of dissolving parliament and thus of directly influencing the election date. If his own vote of confidence does not find a majority in parliament, the Federal President can dissolve the Bundestag on the proposal of the Bk. Within 21 days, unless the Bk. Elects another Bk. In the absence of an effective possibility for the head of government to dissolve parliament, the temptation to make use of Art. 68.1, which in the meantime has probably been assessed as abusive, was close to the "false → vote of confidence" in which parts of the parliamentary majority went to the Bk Bringing about new elections - failing trust.

Despite the often criticized governmental "list" of the constitution, the refusal of the right to dissolve parliament has secured an important piece of independence for parliament, which it seems to protect effectively from the risk of further disempowerment in favor of the executive. As obstructive as the restrictive possibilities of dissolving parliament may have been in the political process at one point or another, they were probably a decisive counterweight to the governmentalization of the constitution, which the federal government - and on - was pushed too far out of a historical fear of the crisis its top would have upgraded the Bk. - to the strongest constitutional organ.

However, this tendency to strengthen the executive or, more precisely, the top executive, the head of government, is not a German constitutional specificity. We find it in all comparable democratic states, especially in the form of the "Prime-Ministerial Government" of the English system of government, although this is not so much based on concrete constitutional rules, but has developed itself in the political process. The reason for this is the enormous increase in government responsibilities in the second half of the last century, which at the same time gave rise to a growing systemic need for leadership, coordination and centralized control.

It is easy to see that the previous Bk. Ds perceived the authority to issue guidelines very differently. But no Bk. Can put his head through the wall by invoking his constitutional powers; it too depends quite naturally on a large number of specific political power factors. Even if the constitution makes it relatively easy for a skilled, politically competent person to dominate the political process, the constitutional design of the chancellor position is of course no guarantee of political leadership. How much the fact that the Bk. Always heads a government formed from coalition parties in the constitutional reality affects its factual "policy competence" is shown by any look at the coalition negotiations and agreements in any party constellation. In the meantime, the so-called.

"Coalition agreements" almost regularly receive the higher degrees of ratification at their own party congresses. How seldom before or after were z. For example, on the occasion of Foreign Minister Genscher's resignation in 1992, the public was shown the limits of the authority to issue directives: it was only the party and parliamentary groups of the smaller coalition partner → FDP that negotiated and voted on the award of what is probably the most important political position alongside the Chancellery . Something similar was repeated in 2011 under the CDU / CSU / FDP coalition under the aegis of Chancellor Merkel, when the FDP, in the face of dramatic electoral defeats, exchanged the party chairman and vice-chancellor in a night and fog in the face of dramatic electoral defeats. The fact that the Bk. Is only allowed to register external party decisions in such important personnel decisions as the appointment of foreign minister or vice-chancellor does not help to increase his official authority. Oboedientia facit imperantem - powers of attorney are also a precarious credit if they are not repeatedly confirmed by a certain virtuosity of administration and government technology and authenticated by the authority and persuasiveness of the personality.

Incidentally, it cannot be overlooked that, after seven male heads of government (Adenauer, Erhard, Kiesinger, Brandt, Schmidt, Kohl and Schröder) with Angela Merkel as the first woman in the Chancellery, the perception of political leadership as an integral overall process is also in the Media as well as in science has gained in importance: For the first time the universally accepted "Patterns of Leadership" are placed in a clear (and correspondingly critical!) Relationship with the incumbent's "Personality Matters" - including personal characteristics such as voice and gait , Clothes, hairstyle and facial expression.



Source: Andersen, Uwe / Wichard Woyke (ed.): Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 7th, updated Aufl. Heidelberg: Springer VS 2013. Author of the article: Bernd Guggenberger