Minister president (Germany)

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The Minister President (Ministerpräsident) is the head of state and government in thirteen of Germany's sixteen states.

In the three states of Berlin, Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg the heads of the state hold different titles:

In the since-1952 defunct states of Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern the heads of state held the title State President (Staatspräsident). Nevertheless, in Germany it is common practice, to call all sixteen heads of the states ministers president if they are referred to collectively. For example, the regular meetings of the sixteen office-holders are called Conference of Ministers President (Ministerpräsidentenkonferenz).

Constitutional roles and powers[edit]

As the German constitution (Basic Law) defines the Federal Republic of Germany as a federation, each German state has its own constitution. The Basic Law gives the states a broad discretion to determine their respective state structure, only stating that each German state has to be a social and democratic republic under the rule of law (Article 28.1). In practice all German states have adopted some form of a mixed parliamentary republican system: Despite some differences between the individual state constitutions, the Ministers President have both typical powers of an executive leader (for example appointing and dismissing cabinet members or defining the political guidelines of the cabinet) and typical powers and functions of a head of state (for example the power to grant pardons on behalf of the state and to perform certain ceremonial duties). As such, their powers and functions resemble those of an executive president, but in contrast to a presidential system, they are not directly elected and depend on the confidence of the respective state parliament. Thus, the constitutional position of a minister president differs from that of the Chancellor of Germany at the federal level, who only holds the role of a chief executive leader, while the President of Germany performs the more ceremonial powers and functions of the federal head of state.

Even though all sixteen ministers president hold roughly the same position in their states, there are also some important differences between the provisions of the state constitutions with regard to the head of state and government. This begins with the election procedure: All ministers president are elected by the state parliament, but while in some states a majority of parliament members is needed for a successful election, in other states a simple majority (a majority of votes cast) is sufficient. The same goes for recall procedures: In some states, the parliament may simply vote an officeholder out of office, while in other states the parliament has to elect a new officeholder at the same time (Constructive vote of no confidence). In Bavaria, the constitution does not allow a recall of the minister president at all. In fifteen states, the state constitution defines the minister president as the leader of the cabinet, giving him or her the right, to determine the cabinet's political guidelines, but this is not the case in Bremen, where the President of the Senate and Mayor only has a ceremonial precedence over the other cabinet members. There are also differences regarding the ministers president power, to shape his or her cabinet: While in some states the office-holder is free to appoint or dismiss cabinet ministers at his or her discretion, in other states there are limits to this power, while the constitution of Bremen does not give the President of the Senate and Mayor any power, to directly influence the composition of his or her cabinet.

State Title Election threshold Recall procedure Position in cabinet Power to shape the cabinet Right to grant pardon Minimum age Other provisions
Baden-Württemberg[1] Minister President majority of members constructive vote of no confidence guideline competence cabinet appointments subject to parliamentary approval, the state parliament may recall individual cabinet ministers with a two-thirds majority yes 35
Free State of Bavaria[2] Minister President simple majority none, has to resign if cooperation with the state parliament is not possible anymore guideline competence cabinet appointments subject to parliamentary approval yes 40
Berlin[3] Governing Mayor simple majority vote of no confidence, but if the state parliament does not elect a new Governing Mayor within 21 days, the former officeholder is reinvested automatically guideline competence full no (whole cabinet) 18 (de facto)
Brandenburg[4] Minister President majority of members (first and second ballot), plurality (third ballot) constructive vote of no confidence guideline competence full yes 18 (de facto)
Free Hanseatic City of Bremen[5] President of the Senate and Mayor simple majority constructive vote of no confidence ceremonial precedence none, all cabinet members are elected and may be recalled by the state parliament no (whole cabinet) 18 may not be a member of the state parliament
Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg[6] First Mayor majority of members constructive vote of no confidence guideline competence cabinet appointments subject to parliamentary approval no (whole cabinet) 18 may not be a member of the state parliament
Hesse[7] Minister President majority of members vote of no confidence guideline competence dismissal of a cabinet minister is subject to parliamentary approval yes 18 (de facto) members of noble houses, which have reigned in Germany before 1918, are ineligible for office
Lower Saxony[8] Minister President majority of members or plurality, if the state parliament does not elect a minister president in 21 days and does not dissolve itself thereupon constructive vote of no confidence guideline competence cabinet appointments subject to parliamentary approval yes 18 (de facto)
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern[9] Minister President majority of members or plurality, if the state parliament does not elect a minister president in 28 days and does not dissolve itself thereupon constructive vote of no confidence guideline competence full yes 18 (de facto)
North Rhine-Westphalia[10] Minister President majority of members (first ballot), simple majority (second and third ballot), runoff (fourth ballot) constructive vote of no confidence guideline competence full yes 18 has to be a member of the state parliament
Rhineland-Palatinate[11] Minister President majority of members vote of no confidence guideline competence full yes 18 (de facto)
Saarland[12] Minister President majority of members vote of no confidence guideline competence cabinet appointments and dismissals subject to parliamentary approval no (whole cabinet) 18 (de facto)
Free State of Saxony[13] Minister President majority of members (first ballot), simple majority (following ballots) constructive vote of no confidence guideline competence full yes 18 (de facto
Saxony-Anhalt[14] Minister President majority of members or simple majority, if the state parliament does not elect a minister president in 14 days and does not dissolve itself thereupon constructive vote of no confidence guideline competence full yes 18 (de facto)
Schleswig-Holstein[15] Minister President majority of members (first and second ballot), plurality (third ballot) constructive vote of no confidence guideline competence full yes 18 (de facto)
Free State of Thuringia[16] Minister President majority of members (first and second ballot), plurality (third ballot) constructive vote of no confidence guideline competence full yes 18 (de facto)

By virtue of their position in the Bundesrat, the ministers president can exert considerable influence on national politics within the federal structure. Along with several of their ministers, they commonly represent their state in the Bundesrat (the German Federal Council). Each state government is represented in the Bundesrat by three to six delegates, depending on the state's population.

Deputies[edit]

The Ministers President appoint one (or in some states two) member(s) of their cabinet as their deputies. In most states the deputy of the minister president holds the title Deputy Minister President. Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein have a higher ranking First Deputy Minister President and a lower ranking Second Deputy Minister President. Bavaria has a higher ranking Deputy Minister President and a lower ranking Additional Deputy Minister President. Berlin has two equally ranking Mayors deputizing for the Governing Mayor, while Bremen has a Mayor deputizing for the President of the Senate and Mayor and Hamburg has a Second Mayor deputizing for the First Mayor.

List of current office-holders[edit]

Map of the governing Ministers President by party:
  CDU
  CSU
  The Greens
  SPD
  The Left

The longest-serving incumbent officeholder is Volker Bouffier, who serves as the 8th Minister President of Hesse since 31 August 2010. Andreas Bovenschulte, the 9th President of the Senate and Mayor of Bremen (since 15 August 2019), is the shortest-serving incumbent.

Portrait Name Title entered office Party Deputy
Title
Coat of arms of Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg
Winfried Kretschmann 2012 (cropped).jpg Winfried Kretschmann 9th Minister President of Baden-Württemberg 12 May 2011 Alliance 90/The Greens Thomas Strobl
(CDU)
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Bavaria
Free State of Bavaria
2018-10-12 Markus Söder CSU 8341.jpg Markus Söder 13th Minister President of Bavaria 16 March 2018 CSU Hubert Aiwanger
(Free Voters)
Deputy Minister President

Joachim Herrmann
(CSU)
Additional Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Berlin
Berlin
2017-11-16 Michael Müller (Wiki Loves Parliaments 2017 in Berlin) by Sandro Halank.jpg Michael Müller 14th Governing Mayor of Berlin 11 December 2014 SPD Klaus Lederer
(The Left)
Mayor
Ramona Pop
(Alliance 90/The Greens)
Mayor
Coat of arms of Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Dietmar Woidke M-0212 36139 Ausschnitt Color Hoffotografen (cropped).jpg Dietmar Woidke 3rd Minister President of Brandenburg 28 August 2013 SPD Michael Stübgen
(CDU)
First Deputy Minister President

Ursula Nonnenmacher
(Alliance 90/The Greens)
Second Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Bremen
Free Hanseatic City of Bremen
Bovenschulte-Andreas.jpg Andreas Bovenschulte 9th President of the Senate and Mayor of Bremen 15 August 2019 SPD Maike Schaefer
(Alliance 90/The Greens)
Mayor
Coat of arms of Hamburg
Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg
Peter Tschentscher (2018).jpg Peter Tschentscher 15th First Mayor of Hamburg 28 March 2018 SPD Katharina Fegebank
(Alliance 90/The Greens)
Second Mayor
Coat of arms of Hesse
Hesse
MJK00898 Volker Bouffier.jpg Volker Bouffier 8th Minister President of Hesse 31 August 2010 CDU Tarek Al-Wazir
(Alliance 90/The Greens)
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony
Weil, Stephan.jpg Stephan Weil 12th Minister President of Lower Saxony 19 February 2013 SPD Bernd Althusmann
(CDU)
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Manuela Schwesig 2.jpg Manuela Schwesig 5th Minister President of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 4 July 2017 SPD Lorenz Caffier
(CDU)
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
2017-09-24 Armin Laschet by Sandro Halank.jpg Armin Laschet 11th Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia 27 June 2017 CDU Joachim Stamp
(FDP)
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate
WLP RLP 9648 Malu Dreyer.jpg Malu Dreyer 8th Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate 16 January 2013 SPD Volker Wissing
(FDP)
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Saarland
Saarland
Tobias Hans-6779.jpg Tobias Hans 9th Minister President of Saarland 1 March 2018 CDU Anke Rehlinger
(SPD)
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Saxony
Free State of Saxony
Michael Kretschmer-v2 Pawel-Sosnowski - Querformat (cropped).jpg Michael Kretschmer 4th Minister President of Saxony 13 December 2017 CDU Martin Dulig
(SPD)
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt
Reiner Haseloff (Martin Rulsch) 09.jpg Reiner Haseloff 6th Minister President of Saxony-Anhalt 19 April 2011 CDU Petra Grimm-Benne
(SPD)
First Deputy Minister President

Claudia Dalbert
(Alliance 90/The Greens)
Second Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Daniel Günther (2017).jpg Daniel Günther 14th Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein 28 June 2017 CDU Monika Heinold
(Alliance 90/The Greens)
First Deputy Minister President

Hainer Garg
(FDP)
Second Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Thuringia
Free State of Thuringia
2011-05-18-landtagsprojekt-erfurt-070.jpg Bodo Ramelow 5th Minister President of Thuringia 15 December 2014 The Left Heike Taubert
(SPD)
Deputy Minister President

Last office-holders in former states of the Federal Republic of Germany[edit]

Portrait Name Title in office Party Deputy
Title
Coat of arms of Baden
Baden
Leo Wohleb thumb.jpg Leo Wohleb State President of Baden 24 June 1947 - 25 April 1952 CDU Alfred Schühly
(CDU)
Deputy State President
Coat of arms of Württemberg-Baden
Württemberg-Baden
Reinhold Maier.jpg Reinhold Maier Minister President of Württemberg-Baden 19 September 1945 - 25 April 1952 FDP Hermann Veit
(SPD)
Deputy Minister President
Coat of arms of Württemberg-Hohenzollern
Württemberg-Hohenzollern
Gebhard Müller.jpg Gebhard Müller 3rd State President of Württemberg-Hohenzollern 13 August 1948 - 25 April 1952 CDU Viktor Renner
(SPD)
Deputy State President

Trivia[edit]

The office of a minister president is both highly prestigious in its own right and acts as a potential "career springboard" for German politicians.

Three out of twelve Presidents of Germany have been head of a state before becoming President:

One out of 13 Presidents of the Bundestag has been head of a state before becoming President:

Four out of eight Chancellors of Germany have been head of a state before becoming Chancellor:

One out of nine Presidents of the Federal Constitutional Court has been head of a state before becoming President:

  • Gebhard Müller, 3rd State President of Württemberg-Hohenzollern (1948-1952), 2nd Minister President of Baden-Württemberg (1953-1958)

Many more Ministers President went on to become members of the federal government, EU institutions or associate judges of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany for example.

There have been six female heads of a German state:

One person has managed to become minister president of two different states, which did not merge into one another:

  • Bernhard Vogel, 4th Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate (1976-1988) and 2nd Minister President of Thuringia (1992-2003)

Two persons have been ministers president of two states before and after they had merged into one another:

  • Reinhold Maier, Minister President of Württemberg-Baden (1945-1952), 1st Minister President of Baden-Württemberg (1952-1953)
  • Gebhard Müller, 3rd State President of Württemberg-Hohenzollern (1948-1952), 2nd Minister President of Baden-Württemberg (1953-1958)

So far, there has been already one minister president from an ethnic minority. Stanislaw Tillich, who served as minister president of Saxony between 2008-2017, is of Sorbian origin and speaks Sorbian and German as his mother tongue.

David McAllister, who served as minister president of Lower Saxony between 2010–2013, has been the first minister president with dual nationality and a family heritage of both, German and British ancestry.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  12. ^ "VERFASSUNG des Saarlandes (SVerf) vom 15. Dezember 1947 zuletzt geändert durch das Gesetz vom 13. Juli 2016 (Amtsbl. I S. 178)" (PDF). Landtag-saar.de. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  13. ^ "REVOSax Landesrecht Sachsen : Verfassung". Revosax.sachsen.de. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
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  15. ^ "Gesetze-Rechtsprechung Schleswig-Holstein Verf SH 2014 - Landesnorm Schleswig-Holstein - Gesamtausgabe - Verfassung des Landes Schleswig-Holstein in der Fassung vom 2. Dezember 2014 - gültig ab: 11.12.2014". Gesetze-rechtsprechung.sh.juris.de. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  16. ^ "Landesrecht TH Verf TH - Landesnorm Thüringen - Gesamtausgabe - Verfassung des Freistaats Thüringen vom 25. Oktober 1993 - gültig ab: 30.10.1993". Landtag.thueringen.de. Retrieved 12 November 2018.