What is the government responsible for?
1. Government mandate from the people
Democracy means rule by the people. The people exercise state power in elections and also have the final say in the control of the most important institutions of the state, the five "constitutional organs". These are the Bundestag and Bundesrat with legislative tasks (legislative), the Federal Constitutional Court on the highest jurisdiction (judiciary) and finally the Federal President and the federal government, which take on executive tasks (executive). The federal government controls political and state affairs, but also has the right of initiative for laws.
2. The federal government
The Federal Government consists of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers. Together they make up the cabinet.
3. The role of the Federal Chancellor
The Federal Chancellor has a prominent position in the government. The Chancellor decides who is to become a member of the government, as he or she alone has the right to form a cabinet. The head of government selects the ministers and makes a binding proposal for their appointment or dismissal for the Federal President. He or she also decides on the number of ministers and defines their areas of responsibility. The Federal Chancellor determines the cornerstones of government policy (chancellor principle).
4. The role of the minister
Although the Federal Chancellor has the right to issue instructions to the ministers, the constitution also emphasizes that the federal ministers manage their areas of responsibility independently and on their own responsibility (departmental principle). Some ministers can also create a strong position for themselves through their own performance, skillful interaction with the public or through strong support from parliamentary or extra-parliamentary forces.
5. The interplay of government forces:
The Chancellor and the Cabinet
Since 1949, when the Federal Republic of Germany was founded, it has been shown that the Chancellor, despite his or her strong position, cannot alone guarantee the efficiency of the government - even if the Federal Chancellery enables tight management and coordination from headquarters. The college, which consists of the Federal Chancellor and the ministers, plays an important role in the practice of governance.
6. Three important working principles
The Basic Law provides for three important working principles for this interaction in the federal government: the chancellor, the collegial and the departmental principle. They regulate the dealings and the division of labor in the cabinet.
7. The Chancellor Principle
In accordance with the chancellor principle, the Federal Chancellor determines the policy guidelines and bears responsibility for them. That means: the business of the federal government is managed. This is based on rules of procedure adopted by the cabinet. It is approved by the Federal President.
8. The collegial principle
According to the collegial principle, the Chancellor and the ministers decide jointly on matters of general political importance. In the event of differences of opinion, however, the Chancellor is first among equals. This means: If there is a dispute between the ministers, the Federal Chancellor mediates. Ultimately, the cabinet has to come to a decision with a majority.
9. The departmental principle
According to the departmental principle, each minister manages his or her area of responsibility on his or her own responsibility. The Federal Chancellor may therefore not simply "rule over" the powers of the ministers. At the same time, however, every minister must ensure that decisions are only taken within the political framework specified by the chancellor.
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