Chancellor of Germany

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The Chancellor of Germany is the head of government of Germany. The official title in German is Bundeskanzler(-in), and the office is often referred to as Kanzler(-in) for short.

In German politics the Chancellor is equivalent to that of a Prime Minister in many other countries. The direct German equivalent of Prime Minister, Ministerpräsident, is used exclusively for the heads of government of most German states (called Länder in German).

The current Chancellor of Germany is Angela Merkel, who was re-elected in 2009 after her first election in 2005. She is the first female Chancellor. In German she is thus known as Bundeskanzlerin. That word was never used officially before Angela Merkel, but it is a grammatically regular formation of a noun denoting a female.

The office of Chancellor has a long history, stemming back to the Holy Roman Empire. The title was at times used in several states of German-speaking Europe. The modern office of Chancellor was established with the North German Confederation, of which Otto von Bismarck became Chancellor (German, Bundeskanzler) in 1867. After the Unification of Germany in 1871, the office became known in German as Reichskanzler, although it continued to be referred to as Chancellor in English. With Germany's constitution of 1949, the title Bundeskanzler was revived in German.

During the various eras, the role of the Chancellor has varied. From 1871 to 1918, the Chancellor was only responsible to the Emperor. With the constitutional reform in 1918, the Parliament was granted the right to dismiss the Chancellor. According to the Weimar Constitution of 1919, the Chancellor was appointed by the President and responsible to Parliament. After the death of President Hindenburg, the Weimar Constitution was effectively set aside during the Nazi dictatorship. The 1949 constitution gave the Chancellor greater powers than during the Weimar Republic, while diminishing the role of the President. Germany is today often referred to as a "chancellor democracy", reflecting the de facto role of the Chancellor as the country's chief executive.

Since 1867, 34 individuals have served as heads of government of Germany or its predecessor, the North German Confederation, most of them with the title Chancellor.


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