The Vice-Chancellor of Germany (German: Vizekanzler) is, according to protocol, the second highest position in the Cabinet of Germany
In case of the Chancellor's absence, the vice-chancellor acts in his or her place, for instance by heading cabinet meetings. The vice-chancellor will not automatically become chancellor for the rest of the term if the chancellor dies or becomes unable to fulfill his or her duties in any other way. It is the President who asks a minister to fulfill the chancellor's duties until the Parliament elects a new chancellor. Usually, the president asks the vice-chancellor.
In modern times, vice-chancellor is not an independent office, but a position held by one of the cabinet ministers. Since 1966, it has often been held by the minister of foreign affairs.
According to the Basic Law, it is the chancellor who chooses one of the ministers to be vice-chancellor. Since coalition governments are common in German politics, the vice-chancellor in most cases represents the junior coalition partner and is often the chairman of that party.
The office was initially established by the 1878 Stellvertretungsgesetz, which provided for the Chancellor appointing a deputy, officially known as Allgemeiner Stellvertreter des Reichskanzlers (Deputy General to the Chancellor). In addition to the general deputy, who would be responsible for all the affairs of the Chancellor, the Chancellor could appoint deputies with limited responsibilities. The Stellvertretungsgesetz was revised on 28 October 1918, when the possibility of appointing deputies with limited responsibilities was removed and the Vice Chancellor was given the right to appear before Parliament.
The prefix "Vize-" is derived from the Latin "vicis" meaning "in place of". "Kanzler" is the traditional title of the head of government in Germany. Although the office has always been widely known as Vizekanzler, this has never been the official term. The official term since 1949 is Stellvertreter des Bundeskanzlers (Deputy to the Chancellor), however this term is seldom used outside very formal contexts.
List of Vice-Chancellors
Allgemeiner Stellvertreter des Reichskanzlers (Deputy General to the Chancellor)
- Otto zu Stolberg-Wernigerode, 1 June 1878 - 20 June 1881.
- Karl Heinrich von Boetticher, 20 June 1881 - 1 July 1897, also Secretary of the Interior.
- Arthur von Posadowsky-Wehner, 1 July 1897 - 24 June 1907, also Secretary of the Interior.
- Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, 24 June 1907 - 14 July 1909, also Secretary of the Interior.
- Clemens von Delbrück, 14 July 1909 - 22 May 1916, also Secretary of the Interior.
- Karl Helfferich, 22 May 1916 - 9 November 1917, also Secretary of the Interior (until 23 October 1917).
- Friedrich von Payer (FVP), 9 November 1917 - 10 November 1918.
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