Federal President (Germany)

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Federal President of the
Federal Republic of Germany
Standard of the Federal President
Standard of the Federal President
with the federal eagle
Steinmeier cropped.jpg
Acting Federal President
Frank-Walter Steinmeier
since March 19, 2017
Official seat Bellevue Palace in Berlin ,
Villa Hammerschmidt in Bonn
authority Office of the Federal President
Term of office five years
(subsequent re-election possible once)
position Head of state
Creation of the office May 24, 1949
Choice by Federal Assembly
Last choice February 12, 2017
Next choice February 13, 2022
Salutation Mr. President and Mrs. President of (usually)
Excellency (in international correspondence)
Deputy President of the Federal Council
website www.bundespraesident.de
Frank-Walter Steinmeier Joachim Gauck Christian Wulff Horst Köhler Johannes Rau Roman Herzog Richard von Weizsäcker Karl Carstens Walter Scheel Gustav Heinemann Heinrich Lübke Theodor Heuss
Logo of the Federal President

The Federal President (abbreviation BPr ) is the head of state of the Federal Republic of Germany .

Its role in the political system of the state is mostly beyond day-to-day politics . Even if there is no constitutional regulation that prohibits the Federal President from making daily political statements, the head of state traditionally holds back with such statements. Government work in Germany is carried out by the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Cabinet . Nevertheless, the office of the Federal President includes the right and the duty to act politically and is not limited to purely representative tasks. The functions of the office are defined by the Basic Law (Art. 54–61). How the Federal President performs these tasks, he decides in principle autonomously; In this regard, he has a lot of room for maneuver, also with regard to his expressions of opinion.

In addition to representing the Federation under international law and numerous formal and protocol-wise important tasks, the Federal President has important reserve powers, which assign him major state-political tasks, especially in times of crisis. Among other things, the Federal President comes in the context of a legislative emergency , in the election of the Federal Chancellor, in the decision-making power over the dissolution of the German Bundestag in the event of a vote of confidence lost by the Federal Chancellor , in the election of a minority government and due to the fact that a law is only passed by the The President's signature has become final, important competencies too.

Within the political system, the Federal President cannot be assigned to any of the three classic powers ; as head of state he embodies the “unity of the state”. It is therefore also seen as “violence sui generis ”. According to Art. 55 of the Basic Law , he may not belong to the government or legislative bodies of the Federation or a Land. Furthermore, he may not exercise any other salaried office, any trade or profession. He is also not allowed to run a commercial company. Therefore it can be called a “ neutral force” ( pouvoir neutre ) . In addition to exercising the political powers assigned to him by the constitution, the Federal President also works in a representative, meaningful and integrative manner by virtue of his office . In order to comply with the non-partisan nature of the office, traditionally all presidents of the Federal Republic of Germany have suspended existing party membership.

The Federal President is elected by the Federal Assembly for a term of five years . A subsequent re-election is only permitted once. A later re-election is not excluded, even after two terms of office, if another Federal President was in office in the meantime. The official seats of the Federal President are Bellevue Palace in the federal capital Berlin and Villa Hammerschmidt in the federal city of Bonn . The Office of the Federal President supports him in the exercise of his duties .

Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been the twelfth incumbent since March 19, 2017 . He was elected on February 12, 2017 by the 16th Federal Assembly for a term of office up to and including March 18, 2022.

Historical background

From the German Confederation to the modern federal state

Johann of Austria was provisional head of state as Reich administrator and set up the provisional central authority . The uncle of the Austrian emperor at the time was, on the one hand, acceptable to the conservatives and, on the other hand, to the liberals because of his popular nature.

The first modern head of state for all of Germany was imperial administrator Archduke Johann of Austria . The Frankfurt National Assembly elected him on June 29, 1848. On July 12, the Bundestag of the German Confederation gave him his powers. Despite the suppression of the 1849 revolution, states have never questioned the legality and legitimacy of his office. On December 20, 1849, he transferred the business of a Federal Central Commission , which held office until the old Bundestag was restored. The German Confederation itself, before and after the revolution, had no head, but only the Bundestag as the highest body.

In the North German Confederation of 1867 (since 1871 under the name "German Empire") the King of Prussia was the head of state, known as the Federal Presidium . The republican-sounding expression "Federal President" had been deliberately avoided. With the new constitution of January 1, 1871 , the king also received the title of " German Emperor ". The office at federal level was constitutionally linked to that of the Prussian king, so that the Prussian succession automatically also applied to the succession in the imperial office. The other states in Germany such as Bavaria or Baden kept their princes. The time of the monarchical federal state ended with the November Revolution of 1918.

The purely revolutionary period ended with the rise of the Weimar National Assembly . On February 11, 1919, she elected Friedrich Ebert as President of the Reich . The final form of this office only came into being in the summer, with the Weimar Constitution . After Ebert, Paul von Hindenburg was President of the Reich (1925–1934, he died in office). In January 1933, Hindenburg had appointed the "Führer" of the National Socialists as Reich Chancellor, Adolf Hitler . With Hindenburg's support, the National Socialists turned Germany into a totalitarian dictatorship . After Hindenburg's death, Hitler had the powers of the Reich President transferred to him by means of a fictitious referendum . In his 1945 will, Hitler appointed Karl Dönitz as President of the Reich. Dönitz and his members of the government were arrested in Flensburg - Mürwik on May 23, 1945 and declared deposed by the four victorious powers on June 9, 1945 .

From Reich President to Federal President

In August 1948 lawyers met in Bavaria . The West German Prime Minister had given this “ Constitutional Convention on Herrenchiemsee ” the task of working out a draft for a provisional West German state. Not officially, but de facto, this draft became the basis for consultation for the Parliamentary Council (1948/1949). The experts had not come to an agreement on whether the new state should again have an individual head of state. Instead, a minority in Subcommittee III wanted to see a “Federal Presidium” consisting of the Federal Chancellor and the Presidents of the Bundestag and Bundesrat . This was justified with the only provisional character of the new state.

The Parliamentary Council, which drafted the Basic Law, followed the proposal of the majority to provide for a Federal President, but to give him relatively little power. This is generally regarded as a reaction to the experiences with the office of the Reich President. It looked at the right of emergency ordinances , the right of the Reich President to rule by presidential decrees bypassing the elected parliament in an emergency, and the right of the Reich President to appoint the members of the government in his own political decision. This was thought to be partly responsible for the political crisis of the Weimar Republic from 1930 with the presidential cabinets under Reich Chancellors Heinrich Brüning , Franz von Papen and Kurt von Schleicher and finally the slide into dictatorship under Hitler. For this reason, and also in view of the lack of sovereignty of the German state at the time, the SPD parliamentary group advocated foregoing the establishment of the office of Federal President until the restoration of German sovereignty and for the President of the Bundestag to perform his functions.

However, the emergency ordinance law of the Weimar Imperial Constitution did not inevitably enable the way to the presidential dictatorship: Art. 48 WRV provided for the establishment of an implementation law that had yet to be passed, which could have put the presidential powers considerably more precisely and restricted and could have put a stop to possible abuse. Furthermore, the president's general authority to dissolve parliament, which no longer exists today, was abused in the final phase of the Weimar Republic. While Friedrich Ebert was still in office , the extensive rights were exercised in a manner that was predominantly described as positive - the failure of the young republic was therefore also due to inadequate monitoring of compliance with the constitution. The removal of the two important rights ultimately resulted in a clear disempowerment of the presidency. The election and removal of the Federal Chancellor is now almost entirely in the hands of the Bundestag.

Position of the Federal President in the Basic Law

The low power-political endowment of the office of the Federal President in the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany is generally regarded as a reaction to the experiences with the office of the Reich President in the Weimar Republic . During the deliberations of the Parliamentary Council , there was broad consensus among all those involved that the President should not again have such a dominant position in the political system as the Reich President (especially Paul von Hindenburg ) at that time.

In parallel to this curtailment of his powers, the election mode for the president was also changed: If the Reich President was still directly elected by the people ( 1925 and 1932 ), the Federal President is elected by the Federal Assembly , which meets for this purpose only . This made the Federal President's democratic legitimation more indirect: he is no longer an organ of political governance directly elected by the sovereign . The rejection of a direct election of the Federal President is also justified by the fact that otherwise there would be a disproportion between strong democratic legitimacy (it would then be the only directly elected constitutional body of the federal government next to the Bundestag , and also the only one that consists of one person) and little political power.

Duties and powers

Office of the Federal President in Bellevue Palace

Reich President Friedrich Ebert described himself as the “ guardian of the constitution ”. Under this expression, various expectations of the office were raised, including from Carl Schmitt , according to which the Reich President should actively defend the legal system. In the Federal Republic, the designation for the Federal President was largely rejected. At most the Federal Constitutional Court is granted such a role.

Furthermore, there are voices who want to see a “pouvoir neutre” in the Federal President that stands above the parties. Just like “Guardian of the Constitution”, this designation fails to recognize that the Federal President is politically neutral, but not politically neutral. The common opinion that the Federal President is the highest notary or state notary of the Federal Republic tends to devalue the office and misjudge its functions. Rather, the Federal President has legal and constitutional control functions as well as, (for the most part) not expressly mentioned in the Basic Law, representation and integration functions. Through his actions and his public appearance, the Federal President makes “the state itself visible”, he “represents the existence , legitimacy , legality and unity of the state”.

In his capacity as head of state, the Federal President has the following tasks:

Many activities are assigned to the function of the Federal President as state notary . Normally, in German constitutional reality, orders and orders of the Federal President under Article 58 of the Basic Law require countersignature by a member of the Federal Government , which, according to the prevailing opinion, basically means all official and politically significant acts and declarations. This means that the Federal President cannot issue decrees or edicts against the will of the government and thus cannot impose his own political content bypassing the federal government.

In certain critical situations, however, clearly defined in the Basic Law, in which the Federal Government's ability to act is impaired, the Federal President has special powers, some of which do not require countersignature to be exercised. In this regard, one speaks of the Federal President's “reserve functions” in terms of power politics.

Representation under international law and engagement in foreign policy

The Federal President represents the Federal Republic of Germany under international law . It certifies German representatives (usually by means of an accreditation letter ) and receives and confirms representatives of international organizations and foreign countries in Germany by receiving their accreditation. The prerequisite for this is the approval of the federal government. For the conclusion of international treaties , the Federal President issues the necessary power of attorney to German representatives , and once these have been signed, he announces the Consent and Transformation Act and draws up the ratification document . With this, the Federal Republic declares in external relations that it regards the contract as binding and effective. The political and material decision on this, however, is made by the Federal Government and the Bundestag.

The Federal President makes state visits . From the chronological sequence of the countries visited, some observers read an indication of which foreign policy accents the respective president is likely to want to set. In the beginning it was often France and other western neighboring countries, for example Federal President Köhler deviated from this rule by paying the first official state visit to his native Poland , Germany's eastern neighbor.

Bundeswehr and Defense Case

In contrast to the Reich President and the Reichswehr , the armed forces of the Federal Republic (Bundeswehr) are not in a jurisdiction of the Federal President; the danger of a state within a state therefore never existed. Command and control over the Bundeswehr rests with the Federal Minister of Defense in times of peace . Neither the Federal President nor the Federal Chancellor are therefore the commander in chief of the Bundeswehr in times of peace . However, in the event of a defense , the authority of command and command is transferred to the Federal Chancellor. The establishment of a state of defense, which occurs at the request of the Federal Government by the Bundestag with the consent of the Bundesrat , requires the announcement by the Federal President in the Federal Law Gazette ( Article 115a, Paragraph 3, Sentence 1, Basic Law). As soon as the state of defense has been announced, the Federal President, with the consent of the Bundestag, can make declarations under international law on the existence of the state of defense.

Appointment and dismissal of the members of the federal government


According to Article 63 of the Basic Law, the Federal President proposes a candidate to the Bundestag for election as Federal Chancellor. The Federal President is legally free to make his decision. Usually, however, the candidate is proposed who, due to the strength of his parliamentary group or an existing or forming coalition, can count on the approval of the majority of the members of the Bundestag in the first ballot.

If the proposal does not find an absolute majority in the Bundestag (which has never happened before, see voting on the German Federal Chancellor ), the Bundestag can elect a Federal Chancellor with an absolute majority within fourteen days without a proposal from the Federal President being necessary. If this does not succeed, a new ballot takes place immediately, in which the person who receives the most votes is elected. If the person elected receives an absolute majority, the Federal President must appoint him. If the person elected only reaches a simple majority , the Federal President must either appoint him or dissolve the Bundestag within seven days.

Deputy Federal Chancellor (Vice Chancellor)

According to Article 69, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law, the sole responsibility of the Federal Chancellor is to select and appoint a Federal Minister as his deputy , who is also known colloquially as the Vice Chancellor . The Federal President is not involved in this.

Members of the Federal Government

The Federal President appoints those proposed by the Federal Chancellor as Federal Ministers . The extent to which the Federal President has personal selection skills is not regulated in the Basic Law. In the traditional constitutional reality, the Federal President has a formal right of examination, e.g. with regard to the question of whether the person proposed meets the formal requirements of the office (e.g. whether he is German, meets the minimum age, etc.). A more far-reaching substantive or personal examination right is by no means excluded in the Basic Law, but has not developed in constitutional reality. The current tradition that the Federal President does not interfere in the Chancellor's personnel policy goes back to a request made by Theodor Heuss , who wanted a list of ministers to be presented to him before the ministers of the first Adenauer cabinet were appointed . Adenauer rejected this demand, however, Heuss gave in and thus established the procedure that has been practiced since then, which is also used when a minister or cabinet is dismissed .

Resignations and executive management

The Federal President can not refuse the Federal Chancellor's resignation ; he must dismiss the chancellor in this case. Even in the event of a successful vote of no confidence, he must dismiss the previous incumbent and appoint the newly elected one. According to Article 69 (3) of the Basic Law, the Federal President can request a dismissed Federal Chancellor or Federal Minister to continue his official duties until a successor is elected. As a rule, he did it that way. The only significant exception with a Federal Chancellor was the dismissal of Willy Brandt after his resignation in 1974. Here Brandt had asked not to be entrusted with the continuation of official business. Federal President Gustav Heinemann complied with this request; thus the recently dismissed Vice Chancellor Walter Scheel officiated as Federal Chancellor for a few days.

Working relations with the federal government

The Federal President himself does not take part in the cabinet meetings of the Federal Government . The Federal President and his office are represented at the cabinet table and in the Federal Security Council in the person of the Head of the Office of the Federal President . However, the Federal President receives the Federal Chancellor, individual ministers or the entire cabinet for confidential consultations and receptions at regular intervals. The Federal Chancellor also informs the Federal President about current government affairs by sending the essential documents and through written and personal reports on matters of importance. On trips abroad, the Federal President is often accompanied by specialist ministers and state secretaries of the Federal Government. The Federal President's Office also maintains working relationships with the Federal Chancellery and the individual ministries.

Signing and reviewing laws

Every parliamentary law must be executed by the Federal President in accordance with Article 82.1 sentence 1 of the Basic Law in order to come into force . The President who, under great public attention every time so far eight times federal laws do not " issued ", that is not signed. In some cases the Federal President complained about errors in the legislative process , in others material violations of the Basic Law.

  • In 1951, Heuss did not sign the law on the administration of income and corporation tax for purely formal reasons, because the Federal Council had not given its approval.
  • In October 1961, his successor Heinrich Lübke refused to sign the law against trade in companies and workers . He saw in this an inadmissible encroachment on the freedom of occupation ( Article 12, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law).
  • Heinemann twice showed the legislature his limits: he saw no legislative competence of the federal government for either the Engineering Act (1969) or the Architects Act (1970) .
  • The "law to facilitate conscientious objection " was stopped in 1976 by Scheel, who lacked the approval of the Federal Council.
  • In 1991, Federal President von Weizsäcker held the “10th Law amending the Aviation Act ”, which provided for the formal privatization of the aviation administration, was found to be materially unconstitutional and did not sign it. This led to the inclusion of Art. 87d, Paragraph 1, Clause 2 in the Basic Law, which left it up to the legislature to decide whether to organize the air traffic administration under public or private law . Thereupon the law was passed again and finally signed by von Weizsäcker.
  • In October 2006, Horst Köhler did not sign the law on the new regulation of air traffic control because it was incompatible with Article 87d (1) of the Basic Law. In December 2006 he rejected the Consumer Information Act because, in his view, it contradicted Article 84.1 sentence 7 of the Basic Law, which forbids the federal government to delegate tasks to the municipalities by law.

In nine cases, federal presidents signed laws , but combined this with a public declaration of constitutional concerns. So behaved i.a. Carstens in the State Liability Act 1981, von Weizsäcker in the revision of party financing in 1994, Herzog in the Atomic Energy Act 1994, Rau in the Immigration Act 2002 and Köhler in the Aviation Security Act 2006.

Formal examination skills

When signing laws, the Federal President has a formal right to review whether they have been constitutionally passed. Parts of the law see this even as audit duty . It is true that there used to be different views in political science as to how far the Federal President's formal right of examination extends. In current practice and in the public self-image of the Federal President's Office, however, the formal examination competence encompasses the entire legislative process. The representatives of the most extensive formal examination competence also want the review of administrative responsibilities to be covered by the Federal President's formal examination right; this means, for example, that the Federal President, as part of his formal examination competence, also prohibits the federal government from delegating tasks to municipalities and associations of municipalities ( Art. 85 para. 1 sentence 2 GG).

Material examination competence

The substantive examination competence is the possibility for the Federal President to check a law presented to him for signature for its content-related compliance with the Basic Law and to make his signature dependent on the result of his examination. If the Federal President does not sign, the law does not come into force (→  Legislative procedure (Germany) ). The substantive examination competence of the Federal President is part of the constitutional reality of the Federal Republic of Germany. The instrument of blocking a law on the path of substantive examination competence, however, has so far only been used cautiously by the incumbent Federal President in its de facto veto function (→  list of incomplete laws ). In the political and legal sciences there are different perspectives with regard to the scope of the examination competence with regard to substantive law , but this is undisputed in the official presentation of the office itself.


If a law is not signed by the Federal President, it will not be passed.

Politicians are left with options

  • the (constitutional) amendment to the law itself,
  • the amendment of the article of the Basic Law complained about as being violated (with two-thirds majorities in the Bundestag and Bundesrat, cf. Art. 79 (2) GG),
  • Organ dispute before the Federal Constitutional Court with the aim of determining the constitutionality of the law and thus the illegality of the refusal and
  • to indict the Federal President, which has never happened before, before the Federal Constitutional Court, which can lead to his removal from office. The motion to bring the indictment must be made by at least a quarter of the members of the Bundestag or a quarter of the votes of the Bundesrat, while the indictment itself must be brought by two thirds of the members of the Bundestag or Bundesrat ( Article 61.1 of the Basic Law) .

Convocation of Parliament and cooperation

According to Article 39 of the Basic Law, the Federal President can request that the Bundestag be convened at any time. It is also customary for the Federal President to invite members of the Bundestag for talks and to receive the Presidium of the Bundestag and parliamentary committees for talks. Such encounters give the Federal President first-hand information and in turn can influence political events. Sometimes the Federal President himself takes part in the sessions of the Bundestag, but usually does not take part in the debates.

Dissolution of parliament

The Federal President has the constitutional right to dissolve the Bundestag in clearly defined situations :

All of these dissolutions were deliberately brought about by the respective chancellors or government factions in order to enable the desired new elections.

The Federal Constitutional Court came to decisions on these cases to the view that the President has to examine whether the Chancellor is no longer actually enjoys the confidence of the Bundestag or whether it wants to operate the resolution abusive.

Legislative emergency

In the event of a negative vote of confidence by the Federal Chancellor in the Bundestag, the Federal President, at the request of the Federal Government and with the consent of the Bundesrat, is authorized, but not obliged, to declare the legislative emergency under Article 81 of the Basic Law. This case has not yet occurred in the history of the Federal Republic.

State symbols and acts of state

The Federal President is entitled to order the national anthem , flag , coat of arms , uniforms , uniforms, the official costume of federal judges (with the exception of judges at the Federal Constitutional Court) and their use, as well as state acts and state funerals , unless the legislature, such as the federal flag ( Art. 22 GG) has become active. These orders must each be countersigned by a member of the federal government. As a national emblem , the Federal President carries - in continuation of the tradition of the Reich Presidents of the Weimar Republic - a standard with a picture of the former imperial eagle , now known as the federal eagle . According to the state practice of the Federal Republic, the federal service flag is used as the coffin cover at funeral ceremonies for a deceased Federal President , and not the standard as for Reich Presidents in Weimar times.

The German national anthem was laid down in correspondence between Federal President Heuss and Federal Chancellor Adenauer in 1952 and between Federal President von Weizsäcker and Federal Chancellor Kohl in 1991. The respective response from the Federal Chancellor is generally interpreted as a countersignature at the disposal of the Federal President. This interpretation is supported by the fact that the correspondence was published in the Federal Law Gazette and thus acquired a quasi-official character. However, this casual practice is problematic in the case of state symbols with penalties under the aspect of the reservation of the law .

These powers have no basis in the Basic Law or a federal law. The majority of constitutional law teachers therefore justify it with the traditional sovereignty of heads of state over state symbols ("honorary sovereignty").

Charitable commitment

The Federal President assumes a number of patronage for projects that he personally considers to be useful, if they have a positive effect for Germany. Even if the Federal President is not bound by the assumption of patronages from his predecessors, he continues to do many of them, such as the patronage of the German Society for Rescue of Shipwrecked People (DGzRS) and the German Red Cross (DRK). The Federal President also awards prizes, including the German Future Prize , and congratulates on anniversaries such as the 65th wedding anniversary or the 100th birthday. He also takes on the honorary sponsorship of the seventh child in a family if the parents so wish.


Federal President Heinrich Lübke visits Kirchheim in Swabia

The Federal President achieves a significant part of his political impact through speeches that take up or initiate social debates. Examples of this are the Weizsäcker speech on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 1985 and the so-called “ jerk speech ” by Roman Herzog in 1997. Like no other politician, the president is independent of day-to-day politics and can thus deal with topics much more freely and determine the time of his utterance.

Party political neutrality

Any party-political neutrality of the Federal President is not stipulated in the Basic Law, but a rather non-partisan administration is tradition. According to the judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court, this does not result in any judicial requirements for the exercise of office, so that an office holder could also lead the office differently in this regard.

Election of the Federal President

Candidate selection

According to Article 54.1 of the Basic Law, anyone who is a German citizen , has the right to vote in the Bundestag and is at least 40 years old can be elected Federal President. The youngest Federal President to date, Christian Wulff, was 51 years old when he was elected. Every member of the Federal Assembly is entitled to make a proposal; the proposal must be accompanied by a written declaration of consent from the person proposed ( Section 9 (1 ) of the Federal Presidential Election Act ).

The selection of candidates in the run-up to the election is heavily influenced by the foreseeable distribution of party-political votes in the Federal Assembly and party-tactical considerations. Depending on the initial situation, the parties try to find a candidate in an intra-party process for whom they hope to obtain appropriate approval in the Federal Assembly.

The dominance of such considerations and agreements on recruitment and led to discussions to amend the constitution and a direct dial to allow the Federal President by the people. Proponents argue that a direct election by the people would make the entire electoral process more transparent and bring decisions back to the public eye from political back rooms . Opponents of a direct election believe that a plebiscitarian elected president would run counter to the principles of representative democracy and that his office would have too few powers to be eligible for direct election.


According to Article 55 of the Basic Law, the Federal President may not belong to the government or to a legislative body of the Federation or a Land. Furthermore, he may not exercise any other salaried office, trade or profession and neither belong to the management nor to the supervisory board of a company aimed at acquisition.

The regulation is intended to increase the independence and integrity of the Federal President and is thus an expression of the separation of powers in Article 20 of the Basic Law. If the Federal President violates the duty stipulated here, a sanction according to Article 61 of the Basic Law can be imposed . According to the prevailing opinion, the violation does not automatically lead to a loss of office.

The duties of Art. 55 GG begin with the assumption of office and end with the resignation from the office of the Federal President.

According to Section 22 of the European Election Act , a member of the European Parliament loses membership if the election of the Federal President is accepted.

Federal Assembly and the election process

The composition of the Federal Assembly reflects the federal system of the Federal Republic of Germany: It consists of the members of the Bundestag and as many electoral men and women elected by the 16 state parliaments . Usually these are members of the state parliaments and state governments, members of the federal government if they do not have their own parliamentary mandate, and public figures such as actors, athletes, artists or representatives of leading associations. The electors are not bound by orders and instructions, which is why there are always surprising election results from a party-political point of view.

The Federal President is elected secretly and without debate by the Federal Assembly. In the election, a candidate must have an absolute majority of the members. Only if no candidate succeeds in this in two ballots, a relative majority is sufficient in a third. There was a third ballot in 1969 , when Gustav Heinemann was elected with a simple majority , and in 1994 and 2010 , when Roman Herzog and Christian Wulff still achieved an absolute majority.

The election is for five years; a one-time re-election is easily possible. Constitutional lawyers are predominantly of the opinion that the phrase “Subsequent re-election is only permitted once” in Article 54, Paragraph 2 of the Basic Law allows more than two terms of office of a person, provided that no more than two terms of office are immediately adjacent. " Acceptable but a third term, if in between the tenure of other Federal President is located. It is even irrelevant whether he has held out a full five-year term and for what reasons the office of Federal President may have terminated prematurely. ”However, none of the four federal presidents re-elected so far was ever available for a third term.

Swearing in

In a joint session of the Bundestag and Bundesrat, the new Federal President will be sworn in by the Bundestag President ( § 11 BPäsWahlG ) as follows ( Art. 56 GG):

“I swear that I will devote my energies to the well-being of the German people, increase their benefit, prevent damage from them, uphold and defend the Basic Law and the laws of the Federation, conscientiously fulfill my duties and do justice to everyone. (So ​​help me God.) "

The religious affirmation can be omitted. However, the oath of office must be taken as such; an "affidavit" according to Section 64 of the Federal Civil Service Act and Section 484 of the German Code of Civil Procedure is not permitted. This oath is considered constitutional, since assuming the office of Federal President is voluntary and the oath is provided for in the constitution itself.

The mandatory taking of the oath by the Federal President “when he takes office” does not mean that the beginning of his term of office or his official powers depend on the taking of the oath (see oath of office # legal position in Germany ). “The office of Federal President begins” rather “with the expiry of the term of office of his predecessor, but not before the President of the Bundestag receives the declaration of acceptance”, Section 10 of the Federal Presidency Act . In 1949 , when there was no predecessor, as in 2010 and 2012 , when Horst Köhler and Christian Wulff made their presidential office available with immediate effect, the term of office of the newly elected began with the acceptance of the election, all of which were still in the Federal Assembly declared.

If the Federal President deliberately fails to take the oath of office, the Bundestag or the Bundesrat can indict the Federal President for violating the Basic Law before the Federal Constitutional Court ( Article 61 of the Basic Law).

If a Federal President is elected for a second term of office, there is usually no renewed swearing-in for this term . This has been done so far in all of these cases ( 1954 , 1964 , 1989 and 2009 ).

Deputy Federal President

The Basic Law does not provide for the separate office of a Vice President. However, it is regulated who will conduct his official business if the Federal President is prevented from doing so. According to Article 57 of the Basic Law, the representation of the Federal President is bound to the office of President of the German Bundesrat . That is, the President of the Federal Council is in personal union also Acting President. This applies regardless of whether the Federal President is only temporarily absent or incapable of office. Often the law of representation only applies to parts of the Federal President's official powers, for example when the Federal President is on a state visit and definitely fulfills his (foreign policy) obligations, but on the other hand a law has to be signed. In such a case, the law is regularly signed by the Federal President's deputy (who is not dependent on instructions).

From September 7, 1949 until the election of the first Federal President Theodor Heuss on September 12, 1949, the newly elected Federal Council President Karl Arnold initially acted as acting head of state. The post was previously vacant.

With Horst Köhler's resignation from the office of Federal President on May 31, 2010, the right of representation once again gained greater importance. Until the election of Christian Wulff's successor on June 30, 2010, Federal Council President Jens Böhrnsen continued the office of the Federal President. On February 17, 2012, when Christian Wulff resigned, Federal Council President Horst Seehofer took over the business of the Federal President until the office was filled by the election of Joachim Gauck on March 18, 2012 .

Term expires

The Federal President is traditionally adopted from his office with a big tattoo . So far this has only been refused by Heinemann.

The term of office ends prematurely if the Federal President

  • dies
  • resigns ( Heinrich Lübke's declaration of resignation from October 14, 1968 at the end of June 30, 1969, Horst Köhler's resignation on May 31, 2010 and Christian Wulff on February 17, 2012),
  • loses his eligibility by
    • gives up German citizenship or
    • loses the right to vote (active or passive) due to a judge's verdict, or
  • is relieved of his office according to Art. 61 GG ( section special legal status and possibility of removal from office ).

In this case, the Federal Assembly meets in accordance with Article 54, Paragraph 4, Clause 1 of the Basic Law no later than 30 days after the office has been discharged and elects a Federal President whose term of office begins immediately after the election has been accepted. The President of the Federal Council exercises the powers of the Federal President until the new election.

In the case of a defense , the term of office of the Federal President can be extended according to Art. 115h of the Basic Law. The term of office of the Federal President or the exercise of powers by the President of the Federal Council in the case of representation ends in this case nine months after the end of the state of defense.

Official seat and emblem

Official seat

The first official seat of the Federal President is Bellevue Palace in Berlin-Tiergarten , the second official seat is Villa Hammerschmidt in Bonn . The office of the Federal President, which was inaugurated in 1998 - also known as the “Presidential Office” because of its shape - is located in the immediate vicinity of Bellevue Palace.

After the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany , there was initially only the official seat in Bonn; In 1956, Bellevue Palace was declared the second official residence. Before the first Federal President Theodor Heuss moved into Villa Hammerschmidt at the end of 1950, the later Soviet embassy on Bad Godesberg Viktorshöhe was the official seat in 1949/50 .

Official residence

After the last major renovation of Bellevue Palace, there is no longer any private apartment available for the Federal President. Instead, he can use Villa Wurmbach on Pücklerstrasse ( Berlin-Dahlem ) as his official residence .

The Villa Wurmbach is surrounded by the area on which the joint headquarters of Ahnenerbe and the Institute for Defense Scientific Research directed their work and their crimes. The villa itself, owned by Hugo Heymann until February 1933 , was Aryanized under dubious circumstances and not restituted in a remarkable process after the end of the war.

Standard and official insignia

The standard of the Federal President is a red-rimmed, gold-colored square in which the federal eagle is , floating, turned after the pole. The ratio of the width of the red border to the height of the standard is 1:12. If the Federal President stays in Berlin or is absent without setting up an official residence at the place of residence (e.g. during a state visit), the stand is set at Bellevue Palace, otherwise not.

As an official insignia, the Federal President bears the highest class of the Federal Cross of Merit , the special level of the Grand Cross .

Special protection vehicle of the Federal President-02-2.jpg
A company car of the Federal President
License plate Bundespräsident.JPG
The special identifier

Travel means and license plates

Various means of travel are available to the Federal President to carry out his official duties. The Federal President's company car is an armored limousine from the luxury class, usually from a German manufacturer. He has the official special number " 0 - 1 ". In official use, the standard of the Federal President is placed on the right fender. The car is always driven by an officer of the Federal Criminal Police Office ( bodyguard ) with special qualifications in driving particularly heavy and armored vehicles under special conditions.

For further trips, the Federal President uses the aircraft and helicopters of the Federal Ministry of Defense or helicopters of the Federal Police .

Special legal status and possibility of removal from office

Privileges in criminal and civil law

If the Federal President is to testify as a witness in a trial, he must be questioned in his apartment. He is not invited to the main hearing. The minutes of his judicial examination must be read out at the main hearing. This is due to the civil procedure of § 375 para. 2 ZPO and the Criminal Procedure of § 49 Code of Criminal Procedure .

Anyone who makes himself a criminal offense for denigrating the Federal President ( Section 90 StGB ) will be prosecuted if the Federal President authorizes the prosecuting authorities to do so. Coercion of the Federal President ( Section 106 StGB) will also be prosecuted without his consent.

During his term of office, the Federal President enjoys criminal immunity , which can be lifted by a majority decision by the Bundestag at the request of the public prosecutor. The Federal President cannot be voted out of office. The only possibility to remove him from his office is the presidential charge before the Federal Constitutional Court according to Art. 61 GG.

Presidential charge

According to the Basic Law, the presidential indictment can be submitted to the Federal Constitutional Court on application “by at least a quarter of the members of the Bundestag or a quarter of the votes of the Bundesrat” by resolution with a two-thirds majority of the Bundestag or Bundesrat. After the indictment has been brought, the Federal Constitutional Court can issue an interim order stating that the President is prevented from exercising his office. If the proceedings come to the conclusion that the Federal President has intentionally violated the Basic Law or a federal law, it can remove him from office.

The instrument of presidential accusation has never been used in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.


View of the Office of the Federal President (headquarters)


The reason for the entitlement to remuneration arises from Article 55, Paragraph 2 of the Basic Law. According to this, the Federal President may not exercise “any other salaried office”, which implies, conversely, that his office is also a salaried one. The amount of the salary is not regulated by law, but results from a mere explanation of title 421 01-011 in section 0101 of the annual federal budget law . In accordance with Section 3 of the Federal Budget Code, this does not justify a claim by the Federal President, but only authorizes the Office of the Federal President to pay the budgeted expenses. On this basis, the Federal President receives an official salary of ten ninths of the salary of the Federal Chancellor. These are regulated in Section 11 (1) of the Federal Ministers Act in conjunction with the Act on the Non-Adjustment of Official Salaries and Local Surcharges for Members of the Federal Government and Parliamentary State Secretaries . In addition, there is free official apartment with equipment and expense allowance (expense allowance), from which the wages of the house staff are also to be paid.

According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the official salaries in April 2021 will be 21,243 euros per month.


The remuneration after leaving office is regulated by the Federal President's Pension Pension Act (BPrasRuhebezG) of June 17, 1953. Thereafter, the remuneration, with the exception of expenses, is usually paid as honorary salary for life. This also applies to a resignation for political or health reasons before the end of the term of office.

Ongoing office equipment for the performance of post-operative tasks

It is not a question of a supply regulation in the continuing office equipment for the performance of post-operative tasks, which in state practice is also granted to other office holders to different extents, e.g. B. Former Federal Chancellors and Bundestag Presidents. In the absence of legal regulation, there is no entitlement to this, but a discretionary decision. If benefits are granted, they can be measured differently according to factual aspects, e.g. B. depending on the time that has elapsed since leaving. Accordingly, the resolution of the Budget Committee of March 20, 2019 provides that the staffing of the offices of future former Federal Presidents will be reduced by one officer after ten years. The permanent office of former Federal Presidents includes a lifelong office in the Federal President's Office - but not in its building - with staff, travel, official vehicles and drivers. In 2018, the Federal Audit Office described this as the "automatism of 'lifelong full equipment'" and also objected to the fact that in administrative practice purely private expenses, wives' tasks and support for secondary activities were financed by the federal government. The longest granting of office equipment for post-operative tasks to date extended over 37 years after a five-year term of office.

Badges of honor awarded and recognized by the Federal President

As "representative of honor sovereignty of the covenant" of the Federal President awards next to the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany the following decorations :

There are also a number of decorations from government agencies and non-governmental organizations that are officially recognized by the Federal President, namely the Order Pour le Mérite for Science and the Arts, the German Red Cross Decoration , the German Fire Brigade Cross of Honor and the Medal for Rescue from Distress at Sea of the German Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked People , the Decoration of the German Traffic Guard , the Decoration of the Order of St. John , the Goethe Medal , the Decoration of the Technical Relief Organization , the Decoration of the German Armed Forces , the Operation Medal of the German Armed Forces , the Operation Medal Flood Aid 2002, the German Sports Badge , the German The lifeguard badge of the German Life Rescue Society and the lifeguard badge of the German Red Cross .

Further donations from the Federal President

As part of the Deutsche Künstlerhilfe founded by Theodor Heuss, the Federal President grants deserved or distressed artists an "honorary salary" as an ongoing donation or gives them a one-off donation. The Federal President expresses the special obligation of the German state for large families by accepting an honorary sponsorship for the seventh child in a family. He expresses his congratulations on special anniversaries .

The previous Federal Presidents of the Federal Republic of Germany

Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany
No. Name (life data) Political party Beginning of the term of office Term expires Days Completed terms of office Elections)
01 Theodor Heuss (1884–1963) FDP 109/12/1949 1 09/12/1959 3653 2 1949 / 1954
02 Heinrich Lübke (1894–1972) CDU 09/13/1959 06/30/1969 3579 1; resigned in the 2nd 1959 / 1964
03 Gustav Heinemann (1899–1976) SPD 07/01/1969 06/30/1974 1826 1 1969
04th Walter Scheel (1919-2016) FDP 07/01/1974 06/30/1979 1826 1 1974
05 Karl Carstens (1914–1992) CDU 07/01/1979 06/30/1984 1827 1 1979
06th Richard von Weizsäcker (1920–2015) CDU 07/01/1984 06/30/1994 3652 2 1984 / 1989
07th Roman Herzog (1934-2017) CDU 07/01/1994 06/30/1999 1826 1 1994
08th Johannes Rau (1931-2006) SPD 07/01/1999 06/30/2004 1827 1 1999
09 Horst Koehler (* 1943) CDU 07/01/2004 2May 31, 2010 2 2161 1; resigned in the 2nd 2004 / 2009
Office vacant 29
10 Christian Wulff (* 1959) CDU [1]06/30/2010 302/17/2012 3 598 resigned 2010
Office vacant 29
11 Joachim Gauck (* 1940) independent 03/18/2012 03/18/2017 1827 1 2012
12th Frank-Walter Steinmeier (* 1956) SPD 03/19/2017 officiating 1516 officiating 2017

Theodor Heuss and Richard von Weizsäcker are the only Federal Presidents to date who have served two full terms. Heinrich Lübke , Horst Köhler and Christian Wulff ended their term of office prematurely by resigning from the office of Federal President.

Although several women have already been proposed for the office of Federal President ( federal assemblies in Germany ), the office has so far only been held by men. The official salutation for a female incumbent is Ms. Federal President.


1 Article 136.2 of the Basic Law provides: “Until the election of the first Federal President, his powers are exercised by the President of the Bundesrat. He does not have the right to dissolve the Bundestag. ”The Bundesrat met for the first time on September 7, 1949 and had elected Karl Arnold (CDU) as its President.
2After Horst Köhler's resignation on May 31, 2010 until Wulff took office on June 30, 2010, the President of the Federal Council, Jens Böhrnsen (SPD), exercised the powers of the Federal President under Article 57 of the Basic Law.
3From the resignation of Christian Wulff on February 17, 2012, Federal Council President Horst Seehofer ( CSU ) exercised the powers of the Federal President until Gauck took office on March 18, 2012.

Theodor Heuss (1949–1959)

Theodor Heuss was born on 12 September 1949 by the first Federal Assembly for the first West German head of state elected. As the first Federal President, he shaped the office in a special way. He refused a third term of office, which would have required an amendment to the Basic Law, because he wanted to avoid the creation of a "lex Heuss".

The Liberal was already in the Weimar Republic from 1924 to 1928 as a member of the German Democratic Party (DDP) and then, from 1930 to 1933, in its successor party, the German State Party (DStP), representative in the Reichstag . In 1933, Heuss agreed to  the Enabling Act in the German Reichstag  - because of the informal parliamentary group discipline .

Heinrich Lübke (1959–1969)

After the then Federal Chancellor Adenauer had withdrawn from his intention to run himself as propagated on April 8, 1959, the CDU and CSU agreed on Heinrich Lübke .

As Federal President, he tried to actively shape politics. Like his predecessor in office Heuss, he wanted to be presented with a list of ministers, but Adenauer refused to do so. In the case of the law against trade in companies and employees , he made use of his examination competence and did not sign it because, in his opinion, it violated the Basic Law.

Many rhetorical mistakes were remembered from his presidency, which led to questionable situations even on trips abroad, but which could be ascribed to advanced cerebral sclerosis . However, as the then Spiegel employee Hermann L. Gremliza revealed 40 years later, many quotes that caused irritation were mere inventions of the news magazine's editorial team.

From 1966 Lübke was accused from the GDR and the German media of having worked as an engineer in the Third Reich in the planning of concentration camp barracks. When the call grew louder after his resignation in early 1968, he announced on October 14, 1968, his 74th birthday, that his second term of office, which ended on September 12, 1969, would end on June 30, 1969 in order to end the office to keep out of the upcoming federal election campaign in 1969 . In retrospect, it turned out that the documents on Lübke's participation in the construction of the concentration camp, which were presented to the world public by the GDR in 1967 and which the Illustrierte Stern together with a doubted report by the American writing expert J. Howard Haring on 28. January 1968 (most of the documents were authentic) had been manipulated by the GDR State Security Service .

Gustav Heinemann (1969–1974)

Gustav Heinemann was elected to office in the third ballot and without an absolute majority in the Federal Assembly and was recognized on various occasions as an inconvenient admonisher and a politician firmly rooted in Christianity .

His moral convictions, which had led him to resign as Federal Minister of the Interior and to leave the CDU in 1950 in protest against rearmament , also shaped his tenure as the highest representative of the Federal Republic of Germany. He saw himself as a “citizen president” and emphasized Germany's democratic, liberal traditions.

Although the majority in the 1974 Federal Assembly would have enabled him to be re-elected, he decided not to run for a second term. He died two years later.

Walter Scheel (1974–1979)

The former Deputy Chancellor in the office of the Federal President also tried to participate politically in his new office. However, this request also failed due to the resolute resistance of Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt . At the beginning of his term in office, in particular, he was often viewed as overambitious, but later he became unexpectedly popular among the population and earned respect as a speaker.

Scheel's well-known interpretation of the folk song High on the Yellow Car was written before his presidency. He sang it among other things. as Federal Foreign Minister on December 6, 1973 for a fundraising event in the ZDF show Drei mal Neun .

In view of the majority in the Federal Assembly, Scheel did not stand for election again and left the office of Federal President on June 30, 1979 after a term of office.

Karl Carstens (1979-1984)

Karl Carstens was the fifth Federal President of the Federal Republic. Carstens' candidacy had previously been criticized because of his previous membership in the NSDAP. His most significant decision under constitutional law was the dissolution of the Bundestag after Helmut Kohl's vote of confidence was intentionally lost in 1982/1983. Some MPs had sued this order by the Federal President, but the Federal Constitutional Court upheld Carstens' decision in a controversial judgment.

Carstens is also known for his preference for hikes, on which he hiked the Federal Republic.

Richard von Weizsäcker (1984–1994)

Richard von Weizsäcker went down in history as one of the most important federal presidents. His speech on the 40th anniversary of the end of the war on May 8, 1985 earned him great international respect, but was also criticized from conservative circles because he postponed the interpretation of May 8 from “day of defeat” to “day of liberation” . His work was received as bipartisan , his sometimes sharp criticism of the party state can be explained with a personal distance to Helmut Kohl (Federal Chancellor from 1982 to 1998).

When he was re-elected (May 23, 1989) , there was no opposing candidate for the only time in West German history.

1990–1994 von Weizsäcker was the first Federal President of united Germany .

Roman Herzog (1994-1999)

Roman Herzog , who was in office until he was elected President of the Federal Constitutional Court , is particularly recognized as President of the Ruck speech in Berlin in 1997. This speech was an example of his criticism of the political situation in Germany. He founded the idea of ​​the Berlin speech , which was continued by Federal President Rau. Herzog's term of office was marked by his denunciation of political failings in view of the economic situation. Another important work by Herzog began in 1997 when he initiated the German Future Prize .

When he took office, Herzog had already made it clear that he only wanted to serve for one term. The majority ratios in the Federal Assembly, which changed during his term of office, also made it more difficult to run for a second term.

Johannes Rau (1999-2004)

Johannes Rau continued the Berlin speeches and held them again every year. In it he addressed topics such as the integration of foreigners and the effects of genetic engineering , economism and globalization . However, he essentially avoided attacks on acting politicians.

However, he had received his nickname "Brother Johannes", which was by no means only disparaging, much earlier because of his publicly practiced religiosity and his habitus, which was often perceived as pastoral. Others found his life motto "Reconciling instead of splitting", which he also tried to adhere to during his term of office, ideal for the holder of the office of Federal President.

Johannes Rau was the first Federal President to give a speech in German in front of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset .

Horst Koehler (2004-2010)

Horst Köhler was the first Federal President who did not take an active role in party politics before his election as head of state of the Germans . Because of this, some believed him to be more independent and at a distance. However, from 1990 to 1993 he was State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance , member of the Trilateral Commission and President of the German Savings Banks and Giro Association , the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and until his election as Federal President he was Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF ) . He also publicly interfered in daily politics. He described Agenda 2010 as “still not going far enough” and in 2004 spoke out against the postponement of the Day of German Unity proposed by Chancellor Schröder . In an interview in May 2008 during the financial crisis, he described the international financial markets as “monsters”.

In his inaugural address on July 1, 2004, Köhler said that “Germany, as a land of ideas, must above all become a country for children”. He received praise, but even more criticism in September 2004 when he was asked in an interview with Focus to accept different living conditions in the new and old federal states and to show flexibility.

Köhler's most significant decision in terms of constitutional law was the dissolution of the German Bundestag in 2005, after Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had put the vote of confidence in the Bundestag with the aim of new elections . Against this, as in 1983, MPs sued the Federal Constitutional Court, but this time too, unsuccessfully . Koehler's criticism of his understanding of office was that he refused to execute two laws passed in October and December 2006, which he considered unconstitutional .

On May 23, 2009 Köhler was re-elected by the 13th Federal Assembly for a second term in the first ballot. After criticizing a statement by Köhler in an interview that "in an emergency, military action is also necessary to protect our interests, for example free trade routes," said Köhler on May 31, 2010 in a press conference that was called two hours beforehand was to resign with immediate effect. The election of the new Federal President was scheduled for June 30, 2010.

Christian Wulff (2010–2012)

Christian Wulff was elected in the third ballot on June 30, 2010. Since the position had been vacant since Horst Köhler's resignation, his term of office began immediately with the acceptance of the election. At the age of 51, Wulff was the youngest Federal President in the history of the Federal Republic.

Shortly before his election, Wulff suggested making financial cuts in the lifelong honorary salary of the Federal President.

Wulff set the tone in integration policy. When he was sworn in on July 2, 2010, he spoke of the need to approach other cultures “in our colorful republic of Germany”, and on October 3, 2010 of how Christianity and Judaism belong “ Islam [...] now also belongs to Germany “( Cf. Political Action ).

From autumn 2011 Wulff came under increasing criticism with a credit and media affair . After the Hanover public prosecutor's office applied for his immunity to be waived - the first time that this happened to a Federal President - he resigned with immediate effect on February 17, 2012: It had been shown that the "trust [... ] of a large majority of citizens "and thus its" ability to have a lasting impact ".

Joachim Gauck (2012-2017)

Joachim Gauck was elected as the successor of the resigned Christian Wulff in the first ballot on March 18, 2012 with 991 of 1,228 valid votes and was sworn in as Federal President on March 23, 2012. On June 6, 2016, he announced that he would not be available for a second term due to his age. His term of office ended on March 18, 2017.

Gauck was the first independent Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany and the first former GDR citizen to hold the office of Federal President.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier (since 2017)

Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected on February 12, 2017 in the first ballot with 931 of 1239 valid votes. He took up his new office on March 19, 2017.

Spouses or partners of the Federal Presidents

No. Wife or partner (life data) Federal President
01 Elly Heuss-Knapp (1881–1952) Theodor Heuss
02 Wilhelmine Lübke (1885–1981) Heinrich Luebke
03 Hilda Heinemann (1896–1979) Gustav Heinemann
04th Mildred Scheel (1931–1985) Walter Scheel
05 Veronica Carstens (1923–2012) Karl Carstens
06th Marianne von Weizsäcker (* 1932) Richard von Weizsäcker
07th Christiane Herzog (1936-2000) Roman Duke
08th Christina Rau (* 1956) Johannes Rau
09 Eva Luise Köhler (* 1947) Horst Koehler
10 Bettina Wulff (* 1973) Christian Wulff
11 Daniela Schadt 4 (* 1960) Joachim Gauck
12th Elke Büdenbender (* 1962) Frank-Walter Steinmeier


4thDaniela Schadt is Gauck's partner; However, he has been married to Gerhild Gauck since 1959, who has been separated from him since 1991.

The wives of the Federal Presidents enjoy a special social reputation even without formal office. You are involved in charities and traditionally take over the patronage of the mother recovery organization founded by Elly Heuss-Knapp . Hilda Heinemann stood up for the mentally handicapped, Mildred Scheel for the German Cancer Aid she founded , Veronica Carstens for naturopathy and homeopathy , Marianne von Weizsäcker for addicts, Christiane Herzog for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Christina Rau for Kindernothilfe and Eva Luise Köhler and others. for the Alliance of Chronic Rare Diseases .

Often the state ceremony stipulates that the president appear with his wife on special occasions. Political neutrality and restraint are expected from them. So far, most of the wives of the Federal Presidents did not pursue any profession at the time of their election and afterwards; only Veronica Carstens continued her medical practice beyond 1979. Bettina Wulff gave up her work in the commercial sector in 2010 after Christian Wulff was elected Federal President. Also Daniela Schadt ended the election of her partner Gauck 2012 her work as a journalist policy in the Nürnberger Zeitung and moved to Berlin.

See also


  • Christoph Degenhart : Constitutional Law I. State Organization Law. With references to European law. 27th edition, Müller, Heidelberg 2011, ISBN 978-3-8114-9805-1 , pp. 301-309.
  • Eberhard Jäckel , Horst Möller , Hermann Rudolph (eds.): From Heuss to Herzog - the federal presidents in the political system of the Federal Republic. Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, Stuttgart 1999. ISBN 3-421-05221-2
  • Daniel Lenski: From Heuss to Carstens. The understanding of office of the first five Federal Presidents with special consideration of their constitutional competences. Edition Kirchhof & Franke, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-933816-41-2 ( review ).
  • Robert Chr. Van Ooyen: The Federal President as an “integration figure”? In: Yearbook of Public Law of the Present. Volume 57, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2009, pp. 235-254.
  • Günther Scholz: The Federal Presidents: Biographies of an Office. Bouvier, Bonn 1997, ISBN 3-416-02573-3 .
  • Klaus Stern : The constitutional law of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bd II. State organs, state functions, financial and budget constitution, emergency constitution. CH Beck, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-406-07018-3 .

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  2. ↑ More on this: Office and duties of the Federal President, self-description on the website of the Federal President's Office , accessed on July 22, 2012.
  3. Judgment of the BVerfG, 2 BvE 4/13 of June 10, 2014 , para. 28.
  4. Judgment of the BVerfG, 2 BvE 4/13 of June 10, 2014 , para. 21 f.
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  7. Deviating: Manfred G. Schmidt , The political system of the Federal Republic of Germany , CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-50871-5 , p. 68 ff. , Which counts him to the executive .
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  9. Marcus Höreth: The office of the Federal President and his right of examination , supplement from politics and contemporary history 16/2008 of April 14, 2008 ( Federal Agency for Civic Education ).
  10. a b Dieter Umbach, in: Dieter C. Umbach / Thomas Clemens (ed.), Basic Law, Employee Commentary , Vol. II, CF Müller, Heidelberg 2002, p. 308 f.
  11. Cf. Roman Herzog, in: Maunz / Dürig / Herzog , Basic Law, Art. 54 Rn. 4.
  12. Martina Peucker: Staatsorganisationsrecht , 3rd edition 2013, Rn. 179 ; Werner J. Patzelt , Der Bundespräsident , in: Gabriel / Holtmann (Hrsg.): Handbuch Politisches System der Bundes Republik Deutschland , 3rd edition 2005, p. 291 ff., Here p. 298 .
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  31. "Federal President Horst Köhler does not draft the law on the new regulation of air traffic control" , press release of the Federal President of October 24, 2006.
  32. "Federal President Horst Köhler does not draft the law on the revision of the law on consumer information" , press release of the Federal President of December 8, 2006.
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  40. On the 40th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe and the National Socialist tyranny . Address by Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker on May 8, 1985 during the memorial hour in the plenary hall of the German Bundestag
  41. Berlin speech by Roman Herzog ( Departure into the 21st Century ) from April 26, 1997 - "Jerk speech"
  42. Judgment of the BVerfG of June 10, 2014 - 2 BvE 4/13 - , para. 23
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  51. ^ Hans-Peter Schwarz : Konrad Adenauer: A German Politician and Statesman in a Period of War, Revolution and Reconstruction. Vol. 2: The Statesman, 1952-1967 , Berghahn Books, Providence 1997, p. 379 . At the same time, it was decided to hold regular Bundestag sessions in the restored Reichstag . This was to demonstrate that the German question (reunification) and the capital question were considered open.
  52. Path of Democracy
  53. Julien Reitzenstein: Himmler's researcher. Defense science and medical crimes in the "Ahnenerbe" of the SS. Schöningh, Paderborn 2014, pp. 9-10.
  54. Ansgar Siemens: Dispute over commemoration: The dark history of the presidential villa , Spiegel Online , August 17, 2017.
  55. ^ Order on the German flags , June 7, 1950.
  56. DTS news agency: zero round for government and Federal President due to Corona. April 8, 2021, accessed on April 11, 2021 (German).
  57. Law on the Federal President's Pensions (PDF; 28 kB)
  58. Federal Audit Office criticized luxury supply. In: Spiegel Online. September 21, 2018. Retrieved September 21, 2018 .
  59. Foreword to Section 01 (Tasks and Structure of the Administration of the Office of the Federal President) in the Federal Budget 2012 ( Memento from January 16, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 81 kB) on the website of the Federal Ministry of Finance , Public Relations Department. Retrieved September 29, 2012.
  60. Presentation of the office and tasks of the Federal President in the online portal of the Federal President , accessed on September 29, 2012.
  61. a b "The office of the Federal President begins with the expiry of the term of office of his predecessor, but not before the President of the Bundestag receives the declaration of acceptance." ( Section 10 BPäsWahlG ) - The term of office does not begin with the taking of the oath. On this, Maunz – Dürig , Basic Law , 56th Supplementary Delivery 2009, Rn. 2 to Art. 56 GG: “According to Art. 56 Sentence 1, the taking of the oath and taking office are closely related in time, but are not mutually dependent. According to the constitution, it is conceivable that the newly elected Federal President is officially active before he is sworn in (because his term of office has already begun) and that the oath is taken before the term of office begins (i.e. during the the term of office of the predecessor). But the last-mentioned course of events at least stands in the way of aspects of the political tact compared to the predecessor. [...] In no case does Art. 56 itself make any provision about the beginning of the Federal President's term of office. "
  62. concrete , 3 (2006), p. 74.
  63. Resignation as President: When Lübke did the Köhler , Welt Online, May 31, 2010.
  64. As early as January and November 1966, SED propaganda chief Albert Norden presented documentation at international press conferences in East Berlin that showed several pieces of files from the work of the Schlempp assembly in Neu-Staßfurt , as well as other documents found on Lübke's work in architecture and Walter Schlempp engineering office, which was under the control of Hitler's general building inspector Albert Speer .
  65. Jens-Christian Wagner : Affären: Der Fall Lübke , Die Zeit , No. 30 of July 19, 2007.
  66. Lars-Broder Keil : Heinrich Lübke and the State Security , Welt Online, May 9, 2007.
  67. Philip Cassier: Shameful tragedy for the Federal President , Welt Online, January 8, 2012.
  68. ^ German Bundestag (ed.): The Federal Assemblies 1949–1994. A documentation on the occasion of the election of the Federal President on May 23, 1999 , Public Relations Department, Bonn 1999, ISBN 3-930341-44-1 , p. 177; Comprehensive see Joachim Braun, Der uncomfortable President. (Gustav Heinemann) With a foreword by Siegfried Lenz. CF Müller, Karlsruhe 1972.
  69. Alone at the End of His Life , Die Zeit, No. 30, July 16, 1976
  70. Documents at the time: "It seems to have come a long way ..." , Die Zeit, No. 46 of November 11, 1977.
  71. Paul Lersch: "Coincidence that he did not ruin the office" . In: Der Spiegel . No. 22 , 1979, pp. 27-32 ( Online - May 28, 1979 ).
  72. The Federal Constitutional Court found that the Federal President should not give his own assessment of the political situation precedence over the assessment of the Federal Chancellor if the latter had come to the conclusion that his political options were exhausted given the given political balance of power. The Federal President has to "observe the Federal Chancellor's ability to assess and assess, unless another assessment of the political situation that prevents dissolution is clearly preferable to the assessment of the Federal Chancellor." (BVerfG, judgment of February 16, 1983 - 2 BvE 1, 2, 3, 4/83 -, BVerfGE 62, p. 1 ff., Guideline 8.2, paragraph no. 139 ) - However, the prerequisite for the dissolution of the Bundestag is the existence of a “real” crisis. Thus, the actions of the Kohl Federal Government were at least problematic.
  73. See the following obituaries (all from January 31, 2015): Spiegel Online, On the death of Richard von Weizsäcker: A single, liberating sentence ; FAZ, Richard von Weizsäcker is dead: The President of the Federal Republic , Süddeutsche.de ( Der Bundeskönig , How a speech liberated the Germans ); Zeit Online, On the death of Richard von Weizsäcker: President and designer of the unit ; Le Figaro, Décès de Von Weizsäcker, president de la réunification allemande .
  74. Berlin speech by Federal President Johannes Rau on May 12, 2004
  75. ^ Köhler: Financial markets have become monsters , Der Tagesspiegel of May 15, 2008.
  76. Konrad Adenauer Foundation (PDF; 61 kB)
  77. Köhler's statement: Election campaign with equality ( Memento from May 21, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), stern.de from September 13, 2004, accessed on March 18, 2012.
  78. Press release of the Federal Constitutional Court
  79. ^ Bundeswehr in Afghanistan: Köhler ignites new war debate , Spiegel Online, May 27, 2010.
  80. Surprise in Berlin: Federal President Köhler resigns , Spiegel Online, May 31, 2010.
  81. ^ Statement by Federal President Horst Köhler of May 31, 2010
  82. Federal President candidate: Wulff wants to save on himself , Stern , June 21, 2010.
  83. "Honorary salary unbearably high" , Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung , June 29, 2010.
  84. ^ Declaration of resignation from Federal President Christian Wulff on February 17, 2012
  85. ^ Website of the German Bundestag ( Memento from January 10, 2016 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on January 10, 2016.
  86. ^ Federal President's Office: Words of thanks to the Federal Assembly on March 18, 2012 , text of the speech, accessed on March 24, 2012.
  87. Press release of the Federal President of June 6, 2016, statement on the term of office , accessed on February 15, 2017.
  88. Federal President's Office: Information on the election of the Federal President on February 12, 2017 , accessed on February 15, 2017.
  89. Federal Agency for Civic Education: Election of the Federal President in Germany 2017 , accessed on March 10, 2017.
  90. ^ The variants for Bellevue Palace , Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of June 13, 2010.
  91. Smiles for Germany , Spiegel Online from July 13, 2010.
  92. Gauck's First Lady gives up job , Spiegel Online from February 25, 2012.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on February 5, 2005 in this version .