Skip to main content

Four facts about the federal government

What are the Berlin Washing Machine and the mysterious Chancellor’s File? Become a political expert with our insider information about the federal government. 

AuthorSabine Giehle, 01.08.2023
Federal Chancellor or President? Who’s in charge in Germany?
Federal Chancellor or President? Who’s in charge in Germany? © pictureAlliance/dpa

Who’s more important? The Federal Chancellor or the Federal President? 

The Federal Chancellor of Germany is very important, advising the Federal President on ministerial appointments to the federal government and also setting government policy guidelines. In German, this power is known as “Richtlinienkompetenz”. However, in terms of protocol, the Federal Chancellor is not quite as important, as the Federal President holds the top spot in the ranking of representatives of Germany’s constitutional bodies. That said, as head of state, the role of Federal President is mainly representative. The President of the German Bundestag ranks second, and the Federal Chancellor only comes in third. 

What is the Berlin Washing Machine?  

The white building of the Chancellery is known by Berliners as the “Washing Machine” for the large round opening in its facade. Amongst other things it houses the Chancellor’s Office and the Cabinet Hall. 

What is a Chancellor’s File? 

Every morning, the Federal Press Office puts together a selection of the latest newspaper reports from Germany and abroad for the Federal Chancellor. Also known as a press file, the Chancellor’s File also includes information about TV and radio reports, certain blogs and social media

Dieses YouTube-Video kann in einem neuen Tab abgespielt werden

YouTube öffnen

Third party content

We use YouTube to embed content that may collect data about your activity. Please review the details and accept the service to see this content.

Open consent form

Piwik is not available or is blocked. Please check your adblocker settings.

Who’s in charge in a federal system? 

It’s obvious: everyone is. After all, everyone has their own role. Each of the 16 federal states is a state in its own right with its own government and a parliament which passes its own laws. There are clear rules on the areas of responsibility for the federal states. Tasks which are not handled at state level are administered by the federal government, which is responsible for the whole of Germany. The federal states also play their part in the legislative process through their representatives in the Bundesrat, the second legislative chamber at national level. In the case of a dispute, the rule is that federal law trumps state law.