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
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 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
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 11:23
  • Ministers are not elected. They are appointed by the president following a proposal of the chancellor.
    – Roland
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 11:27
  • 1
    May we assume that you have read the relevant Wikipedia articles? Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 11:38
  • 1
    @Federico: "The question does not show any research effort" Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 15:06

2 Answers 2


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:




  • Within 7 days is probably the constitutional requirement but it seems to me as if the current practice is to drive to Bellevue immediately after the election, get appointed and drive back.
    – Jan
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 13:56
  • @Jan Sure. Immediately is also within 7 days.
    – Roland
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 17:26

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 sees 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 or more parties which together hold at least 50% of the seats in the Bundestag will form a Coalition. 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). Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 11:40
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    @MartinSchröder To be precise, the first rounds require more than half of the elected members of the Bundestag. This should not be confused with more than half of the present members. The required "normal majority" in the third phase, however, is just "more votes than for any other competing candidate. -- The distinction ins somewhat moot as until now the first round has always been successful. Commented Oct 14, 2023 at 21:05

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