Vice-Chancellor of Germany

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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

German Empire

Allgemeiner Stellvertreter des Reichskanzlers (Deputy General to the Chancellor)

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