The world’s eyes are on Germany’s future Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whom the Bundestag intends to elect head of a governing coalition of the SPD, Greens and FDP. As president, however, Frank-Walter Steinmeier will remain Germany’s highest-ranking representative. An overview of the changes at Germany’s helm.
Future Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz
The chancellor determines the direction for Germany politics. It is not the federal president who has the greatest political power in Germany, but the chancellor. Following the Bundestag elections in September 2021, Scholz succeeded in forming a coalition comprising the SPD, Greens and FDP. In the government led by Chancellor Merkel, he previously held the posts of federal finance minister and vice chancellor. A lawyer born in 1958, he has been one of the leading figures in German politics for decades. Among other things, he has also been federal labour minister and first mayor of Hamburg.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier
In terms of protocol, the federal president is the head of state, representing the Federal Republic of Germany at home and abroad. His political rights are limited, however. Since February 2017 Steinmeier has been the twelfth federal president. Born in 1956, Steinmeier is a lawyer who has held numerous political posts, including foreign minister during Chancellor Angela Merkel’s term in office and chairman of the SPD parliamentary group. Steinmeier’s first term will end in 2022, but he has announced that he wishes to remain in office. Whether this happens will be decided by a secret ballot of the Federal Convention next year.
Bundestag President Bärbel Bas
This SPD politician is the third woman to head the Bundestag, a position she has held since October 2021. Born in 1968, Bas has been a member of parliament since 2009. Together with her deputies, the Bundestag president chairs the parliamentary sessions and represents the Bundestag. In terms of protocol, she therefore holds the second-highest state office.
Heads of the Bundesrat and the Federal Constitutional Court
The president of the Bundesrat and of the Federal Constitutional Court are also among the state’s leaders. The presidency of the Bundesrat changes each year, with elections held in a fixed order. In November 2021, the office at the helm of the Bundesrat was taken over for one year by Thuringian premier Bodo Ramelow. Stephan Harbarth has been the president of the Federal Constitutional Court since June 2020.