I was discussing with my colleagues about the differences in the formation of the government in our countries, but, to my partial surprise, they weren't able to describe in detail the process that leads to the formation of a new government.

I know that Germany is a parliamentary republic, and that they vote to form the Bundestag directly and the Bundesrat indirectly (through the Länder elections).

But then what happens? how does the parliament expresses a government?

  • 1
    The chancellor is elected by the Bundestag and then proceeds to form the government by choosing ministers, who are then appointed by the Bundespräsident: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Germany#Head_of_government. Usually this is preceded by extended negotiation between parties to form a coalition. The coalition treaty fixes the overall policy (and also many specifics) and the number of ministries for each party in the coalition.
    – Roland
    Mar 3 '17 at 10:28
  • The chancellor is (officially) nominated by the Bundespräsident: bundeskanzlerin.de/Webs/BKin/DE/Kanzleramt/…. However, in practice the president follows the proposition by a coalition that has sufficient support in parliament.
    – Roland
    Mar 3 '17 at 11:23
  • Ministers are not elected. They are appointed by the president following a proposal of the chancellor.
    – Roland
    Mar 3 '17 at 11:27
  • May we assume that you have read the relevant Wikipedia articles? Mar 4 '17 at 11:38
  • @MartinSchröder yes. but, afaik, SE does not prevent asking here something that is also written on wikipedia, there might be nuances that wikipedia misses. This said, would you like to tell me how to improve the question and/or to explain your downvote?
    – Federico
    Mar 4 '17 at 11:49

Step 1: Usually a coalition is formed since no party alone has sufficient votes in parliament (Bundestag). This requires lengthy negotiations and results in a coalition treaty, which regulates general (and many specific) policies as well as who gets nominated chancellor and how many and which ministries each party controls.

Step 2: The coalition proposes a chancellor (Bundeskanzler) to the president (Bundespräsident). The president nominates the chancellor to parliament.

Step 3: Parliament elects the chancellor. Subsequently they are appointed by the president (within 7 days) and sworn in.

Step 4: The chancellor proposes ministers to the president who appoints them and swears them in. After this step we have a new government.

Some references:





The Chancellor of Germany is elected by the parliament (Bundestag) with absolute majority. This is done during the first session after each election. Additionally, the Bundestag can at any time do a motion of no-confidence and vote a different chancellor. The Bundesrat does not have any say in this.

Officially, the cabinet members are then chosen by the newly elected chancellor as he or she says fit. But unofficially, the cabinet members are usually negotiated during the coalition agreement.

So what's the coalition agreement?

There wasn't a federal election since 1957 where a single party obtained 50% of the seats. So if every party would vote for their own chancellor candidate, there would never be a government. But why would any party vote for the chancellor proposed by the political opponent? Because they get something in return.

Two parties which together hold at least 50% of the seats in the Bundestag will form a Coalition (theoretically it can of course be more than two. But even though it was discussed from time to time, so far this hasn't happened on the federal level). This coalition is usually manifested in a coalition agreement which includes:

  • Which party chooses the Chancellor
  • Which party chooses which cabinet member
  • What policies will be done in the next four years

After they came to an agreement, the parliament members of the coalition party will all vote for the chancellor they agreed on, who will then nominate the ministers they agreed on. The members of the coalition parties will also be (unofficially but strongly) obligated to support any of the policies which were agreed on in the coalition agreement.

  • Your first sentence is wrong: The absolute majority is only needed in the first two voting rounds, after that a normal majority is enough (but than the Bundespräsident can appoint him/her - or dissolve the Bundestag). Mar 4 '17 at 11:40

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