The Cabinet of Germany (German: Bundeskabinett or Bundesregierung) is the chief executive body of the Federal Republic of Germany. It consists of the Chancellor and the cabinet ministers. The fundamentals of the cabinet's organization as well as the method of its election and appointment as well as the procedure for its dismissal are set down in articles 62 through 69 of the Grundgesetz (the Basic Law).
In contrast to the system under the pre-HitlerWeimarRepublic, the Bundestag may both only move a constructive vote of no-confidence (by electing a new Chancellor if it has lost trust in the existing) and can also only choose to dismiss the entire cabinet and not simply individual ministers. These procedures and mechanisms were put in place by the authors of the Basic Law to both prevent another dictatorship and to ensure that there will not be a political vacuum left by the removal of Chancellor through a vote of confidence and the failure to elect a new one in their place, as had happened during the Weimar period with the Reichstag removing Chancellors but failing to agree on the election of a new one. There is a grace period in-between the dismissal of a Chancellor by the Bundestag and until the Bundestag can elect a new Chancellor, so as to allow the federal government, if it so wishes, to advise the Federal President to dissolve the Bundestag so that elections may be held.
The Chancellor is elected by the federal parliament (Bundestag) after being proposed by the President. Following the election, the Chancellor is appointed by the President. The ministers are appointed (and dismissed) by the President upon proposal of the Chancellor. Eventually, before taking office, the Chancellor and ministers swear an oath in front of the parliament.
The Chancellor is responsible for guiding the cabinet and deciding its political direction (Richtlinienkompetenz). According to the principle of departmentalization (Ressortprinzip), the cabinet ministers are free to carry out their duties independently within the boundaries set by the Chancellor's political directives. The Chancellor also decides the scope of each minister's duties. If two ministers disagree on a particular point, the cabinet resolves the conflict by a majority vote (Kollegialprinzip or principle of deference).
The Chancellor is in charge of the government's administrative affairs, which are usually delegated to the head of the Chancellery. Details are laid down in the government's rules for internal procedures (Geschäftsordnung). These state, e.g., that the cabinet is quorate only if at least half of the ministers including the chair are present. The cabinet regularly convenes Wednesday mornings in the Chancellery.