As you know, Germany has both a Chancellor and a President. While the Chancellor's appearances in international stages and media seem to be huge, not many foreign media talk about the German President.

What are basic functions of the President and the Chancellor in Germany?

How do German people perceive the President and the Chancellor?


3 Answers 3


The president is not really all that important for German people. He has no real power in the executive part of the government. He does have a right to veto but he can't really stop any laws, only pass them on to the Federal Constitutional Court where it can be checked if the law is constitutional.

Although the president is the head of state the real power is held by the chancellor and therefore people are much more interested in him (or her).

In the Republic of Weimar the President of Germany had a lot more power. He was head of the military and could bypass the parliament in case of emergency. This power was misused a lot, even before the rise of Hitler. Because of this the founders of the GG decided to greatly reduce the powers of the President.

  • 1
    If this is true, and I haven't cross-checked to make sure of that, it is a framework followed by many countries of the modern-world. For example, in India, the President is just a representative head whose main job involves seeing to it that the houses of Parliament are functioning as they should be. In contrast, the Prime Minister (Chancellor in the case of Germany) holds the real powers. The two powers quoted above, that of being the head of military and being able to bypass the Parliament under certain conditions still holds for most countries. See goo.gl/LB83gW. Oct 2, 2015 at 13:42
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    This form of government is called a parliamentary republic and appears in about 50 countries. Dec 13, 2017 at 9:15
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    In any Republic, and some monarchies, the head of state and head of government (two distinct functions) are vested in different individuals. This is the relevant fact of the answer. It may seem odd to many, because in the US, and most American republics, the head of state and head of government. are vested on the same person: the president. But if you look at he UK, the prime minister is head of government and Her Majesty, the Queen is head of state. As in fact, she is also head of state in Canada, Australia and most of the commonwealth. Most European republics have a PM and a president
    – hlecuanda
    Apr 1, 2018 at 12:27

The function of the German president is almost just representative. He have to ratify new laws and has the power to suspend the German Bundestag, but in fact, he has no real power.

The "relationship" between the President and the Chancellor are very much the same as in the UK Queen/Prime-Minister.

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    Hi, and welcome to stackexchange. This is not a good answer. First, you should back up your statements with sources. In this case, Wikipedia or the German Grundgesetz might be valuable. Since @Martin Schröder also pointed to Wikipedia which answers what functions chancellor and president have, you should rather answer the second part of the question, "How do German people perceive the President and the Chancellor". The reference to the UK needs more elaboration. Mar 19, 2014 at 11:56
  • The Queen in the UK has a LOT of power.
    – Anixx
    Oct 18, 2014 at 16:26
  • I think it's a decent summary (+1).
    – Relaxed
    Dec 1, 2014 at 21:48
  • @Anixx: Only in theory. Jun 1, 2016 at 19:51

The Chancellor is the head of the executive and the government. The President is the Head of State, but unlike other heads of State, he is not part of any of the classical powers. instead, he forms a fourth, neutral power. The President does not possess power but a lot of administrative importance, and his main purpose aside from representation is the supervision of legislature and executive, so no one can act against the law or the constitution. While he lacks respect by the people, he enjoys a lot of respect by other politicians, and even though he has no actual say on politics, his opinion is valued by them.

The position of the president is defined in the articles 54 - 61 of the German Basic Law, the political reality of the President can be seen when researching former presidents, such as Theodor Heuss (first President), or Horst Köhler (ninth president, one of the best-liked amongst the population).

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    I refute your claim that Köhler was one of the best liked. Dec 17, 2015 at 23:17

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