Prime Minister

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As Prime Minister or Prime Minister in general is a public office of the government in parliamentary or semi-presidential countries designated. Historically, the term prime minister developed from the word meaning "first servant (of the state, of the monarch)" in the United Kingdom . In contrast, the designation Prime Minister explains himself as “Chairman of the Ministers”, that is to say of the government.

In Germany, Prime Minister is the official title for the head of government of a federal state (apart from the city states of Bremen , Hamburg and Berlin ). In German-speaking Switzerland , the name of the head of government of a canton is the district president . In Austria , the equivalent is called Governor . The head of government of the entire state is called Federal Chancellor in both Austria and Germany .

In some presidential systems of government (such as Peru or the Republic of China (Taiwan) ) the title Prime Minister is used to designate a government official . Its duties consist exclusively in the implementation of the directives of the President and in public administration .

An “intermediate form” between presidential and parliamentary systems is the semi-presidential system of government , in which the head of state and the head of government share governance. The situation in such a system of government , in which the president and prime minister belong to different political directions, is known as cohabitation .

The feminine is prime minister and prime minister . In German, the official form of address for men is “Herr Ministerpräsident”, for women “Frau Ministerpräsidentin”.


The terms Prime Minister and Prime Minister are usually used synonymously as a translation for the corresponding offices in non-German-speaking countries , with Prime Minister predominating when the source language already uses a corresponding word formation.

  • The British Prime Minister is usually referred to in German as the "Prime Minister".
  • In the French case ( Premier ministre , "first minister"), both forms are balanced in German.
  • The heads of government of Italy ( Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri , "President of the Council of Ministers") and Spain ( Presidente del Gobierno , "President of the Government") are usually referred to as "Prime Ministers".
  • In contrast, the Portuguese Presidente do Conselho dos Ministros (or Presidente do Conselho for short , “President of the Council of Ministers, Council President”) is more likely to be referred to as “Prime Minister” in German.
  • In the Netherlands , according to the official designation Minister-President, one usually speaks of the "Prime Minister".
  • In Belgium it is called Eerste minister ( Dutch ), Premier ministre ( French ) or Prime Minister ( German ) at the federal level; Minister-president (Dutch), ministre-président (French) or prime minister at regional or community level.
  • The Irish word Taoiseach , which is also used in Irish English for one's own prime minister, actually means “chief”; the Prime Ministers of other countries are called in Irish príomh-aire , which means "Prime Minister".
  • The heads of government in Denmark , Norway and Sweden are called state ministers , literally "ministers of state". In Finland , the official language names are pääministeri ( Finnish ), literally "Hauptminister", or state minister (from Swedish ). In German, the two official designations are more likely to be translated as “Prime Minister”, and more rarely as “Prime Minister”.
  • In the Czech Republic , the Prime Minister is called Předseda vlády ("Chairman of the Cabinet") or Premiér ("Prime Minister"); in German the term "Minister President" prevails.
  • In Hungary the respective head of government is called miniszterelnök , which literally means “Prime Minister”.
  • In Serbia the title is “Predsednik Vlade Republike Srbije” (“President of the Government of the Republic of Serbia”); Colloquially, the position is often referred to as "Premijer", but in German more as "Minister President" and less often as "Prime Minister".
  • In Turkey the head of government was called Başbakan (literally "Chief Minister"); in German one usually spoke of the Turkish "Prime Minister". The office was abolished in 2018 as part of a constitutional reform.


The first British King from the House of Hanover , George I , left the government to his First Minister, Robert Walpole . The term Prime Minister was never used, but Walpole appropriated the power of Prime Minister during George's tenure. The prime minister's power increased under the following monarchs. However, it was not until the 20th century that the British monarch assumed a purely representative role.

In many constitutions of the 19th century, only ministers are mentioned, or a ministry in the sense of all ministers. Its meetings have been known as the Council of Ministers, among other things. One of the ministers presided over this council of ministers; normally he was a minister like his colleagues. For such a minister the designation prime minister has become common. This did not automatically mean special rights. It was only in a longer development that the prime minister, for example, became the only minister who was allowed to speak directly to the monarch without the permission of a colleague, or that the prime minister was given a formal say on who the monarch appointed (the other) ministers.

Function in various systems of government

In various parliamentary systems, particularly those that follow the Westminster model , the prime minister is head of government , while the head of state essentially has ceremonial duties.

There are also prime ministers in constitutional and parliamentary monarchies such as the United Kingdom , Australia , the Netherlands, Belgium and Thailand .

Even in systems where the head of government is an elected or appointed official with more or less powers, he is sometimes called the prime minister. In a presidential system, on the other hand, the president or his equivalent presides over both the state and the government.

Appointment of the Prime Minister

In parliamentary democracies, the prime minister is elected by parliament , for example in the German states ; in Austria , Spain and Italy , in semi-presidential democracies like France or Russia it is appointed by the president.

There are different ways to become Prime Minister in the individual states:

  • Appointment by the head of state without parliamentary approval (examples: United Kingdom , Australia , India , Canada , New Zealand )
  • Appointment by the head of state after nomination of a candidate by parliament (example: Ireland , also Scotland and Wales )
  • Nomination by the head of state before the parliament approves and the head of state appoints the prime minister (examples: Spain; in Germany the Bundestag can also elect another candidate who is appointed chancellor )
  • Nomination by the head of state for a certain period of time during which the prime minister must win a vote of confidence (example: Italy)
  • Direct election by Parliament (Examples: the Canadian Territories, Northwest Territories and Nunavut )
  • Direct election by the people (examples: Israel 1996-2001)
  • Appointment or nomination by a government official who is not the head of state or his representative, e.g. B. in Sweden (at the suggestion of the President of the Reichstag)



In the provisional central power in 1848/1849 the Reichsverweser appointed ministers. Karl zu Leiningen is considered to be the first German Reich Minister- President (see Leiningen cabinet ). When the monarchical federal state was founded in 1867 , it was given the title of Federal Chancellor : This was originally supposed to be an official who carried out the decisions of the Federal Council, but this office was upgraded to the responsible minister by the constituent Reichstag . Again in 1919, the German head of government was a Reich Minister-President from February to August 1919 on the basis of the Act on Provisional Reich Power . After that, the title was Chancellor again .

In the federal Federal Republic of Germany , the states are set up as independent, partially sovereign member states with a parliamentary system of government. In the territorial states, their heads of government are called prime ministers. There are other names in the city-states : The Bremen and Hamburg heads of government are officially called President of the Senate. In Bremen, together with another member of the Bremen Senate, he bears the title of Mayor and in Hamburg the title of First Mayor ; the head of government of the state of Berlin is the governing mayor .

The head of government is elected by the state parliament (the state parliaments in the territorial states, the House of Representatives in Berlin, the citizenships in Bremen and Hamburg) for the duration of an electoral period in a secret ballot . He appoints the ministers (or in the city-states the senators) of his cabinet , which in some countries then has to be confirmed by the state parliament, and in most countries defines the guidelines for government work. In addition to this actual government activity, he regularly represents his country in the Federal Council and thus has a strong influence on federal politics in Germany.

The office corresponding to the Prime Minister at the federal level is that of the Federal Chancellor, although the Prime Minister also has to perform representative tasks that belong to the Federal President's area of ​​office at the federal level. In Germany, the Federal Chancellor is the head of government of the state.


Albania : the Albanian Prime Minister (Albanian Kryeministër ) has been the country's head of government since Albania's independence in 1912.

Andorra : the head of government of Andorra (Catalan Cap de Govern del Principat d'Andorra ) is the head of the country's executive branch.

Belgium: the head of government in Belgium is the prime minister (Dutch eerste minister or premier , French: Premier ministre or chef du gouvernement fédéral ).

Bosnia and Herzegovina : The Premijer Federacije Bosne i Hercegovine (BiH) / Премијер Федерације Босне и Херцеговине (БиХ) is the head of government of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bulgaria: The Prime Minister (Bulgarian Ministar-predsedatel or Министър-председател ) has been the head of government of the Republic of Bulgaria since 1990

Denmark: The Danish head of government was designated Prime Minister between 1848 and 1855 and since 1918 President of the Council (Danish: Konseilspræsident ).

Estonia: the Prime Minister (Estonian: Eesti peaminister ) is the head of government of Estonia.

Finland: the Prime Minister (Finnish: Suomen pääministeri , Swedish: Finlands statsministeri ) is the Prime Minister of Finland.

France: In France the Prime Minister (French: Président du Conseil des ministres or, since 1959, Premier ministre ) is the head of government.

Greece : The Prime Minister is the head of government in Greece.

Ireland: Taoiseach [t̪ˠiːʃɒx] in the singular or Taoisigh [t̪ˠiːʃiː, t̪ˠiːʃɪg] in the plural is the title of the Irish head of government.

Iceland: The Prime Minister of Iceland (Icelandic: Forsætisráðherra Íslands ) is the Prime Minister of Iceland.

Italy: the Prime Minister (Italian Presidente del Consiglio dei ministri della Repubblica Italiana ) is the head of government of the country.

Kosovo :



Liechtenstein: Head of government is the official title in Liechtenstein.





Netherlands: The minister-president (German Prime Minister) is the head of government of the Netherlands

North Macedonia:

Norway: The State Minister (German Prime Minister) is the head of government of Norway

Austria: In Austria, the Federal Chancellor is the country's head of government.

Poland: In Poland, the simplification Prime for the head of government is common. This is why the term prime minister is often spoken of abroad .

Portugal: In Portugal, the Prime Minister is the country's head of government.







Spain: The country's head of government is the prime minister ( Presidente del Gobierno , literally translated as "government president").

Czech Republic:




United Kingdom: In the United Kingdom, the prime minister is the head of government for the entire country. In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the regional heads of government are called first ministers . In Northern Ireland the deputy first minister has equal rights, in the other parts of the country he is deputy first minister .


Cyprus: In Cyprus, the head of state is also the head of government.



In Switzerland , the Office of the Prime Minister does not exist; the government is formed at the national (federal) level from seven federal councilors of equal rank . One of the seven also takes on the role of Federal President for one year . He has neither the function of a head of government nor a president; however, his vote counts as the casting vote in stalemates within the Federal Council (as a body). As with the Federal Council, the government at the national level, the governments at the cantonal level follow the principle of collegiality : The chairmen of the cantonal governments ( District President , President of the Government Council, Landammann ) generally have no significantly more extensive powers than the other members of the government, but are usually only one Year of office elected primus inter pares for representative purposes. The only exceptions here are the cantons of Basel-Stadt, Geneva and Vaud, in which the district president has slightly expanded functions, but which cannot be compared with a prime minister.

See also

Lists of public officials for other countries:

Web links

Wiktionary: Prime Minister  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Prime Minister  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations