Cabinet of Germany
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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 Weimar Republic, 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.
According to established practice, decisions on important armaments exports are made by the Federal Security Council (Bundessicherheitsrat), a cabinet committee chaired by the Chancellor. Pursuant to its (classified) rules of procedure, its sessions are confidential. According to practice, the Federal Government presents an annual report on arms exports, which contains statistical information on export permits issued and gives figures for the types of arms concerned as well as their destination. As a general rule, the Federal Government, if asked, is required to inform the Bundestag that the Federal Security Council has approved a given armaments export transaction or not.
Present German cabinet
The current federal cabinet (in office since 17 December 2013), consists of the following ministers:
- List of ministers of the Federal Republic of Germany - an alphabetical list of former ministers
- Ministerrat of the German Democratic Republic
- Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
- German federal election, 2013
- [2 BvE 5/11, Judgment of 21 October 2014: Right of Bundestag Members to be Informed of Exports of Military Equipment After the Federal Security Council Grants Permits] Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, Press Release No. 91/2014 of 21 October 2014.