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The German Federal Government

Federal Chancellor, Cabinet, seat of government – here you can find out how the German government works.

Federal Chancellery
Federal Chancellery © Adobe Stock

Who is at the head of the German government?

The Federal Chancellor is the head of the Federal Government. It is called the Federal Government because Germany is made up of 16 federal states, so the Federal Government is separate from the state governments. Together with the Federal Ministers, the Federal Chancellor forms the Federal Government – the Cabinet.

Who is in the Federal Cabinet?

In addition to the Federal Chancellor, the Federal Cabinet has been made up of 15 ministers since the 2021 Bundestag elections. Each newly elected government decides on the competences of the individual ministries and can split or merge ministries. After the 2021 election, for example, climate action was reassigned to the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The head of the Federal Chancellery is also a member of the government. This person is in charge of the authority that supports the work of the Federal Chancellor.

Who determines the policy of the federal government?

The Federal Ministries are the most senior federal authorities in each area. They make decisions in their own area, but they also abide by the agreements made within the government. If the government consists of a coalition of several parties – and this has always been the case in the history of the Federal Republic – these agreements are laid down in principle in a coalition agreement when the government is formed. The Federal Chancellor determines policy and bears responsibility for it. This is called "Richtlinienkompetenz" (policy-making power).


What is the departmental principle ?

In addition to the Chancellor’s policy-making power, the departmental principle applies: this means that ministers manage their areas independently based on policy. In addition, the principle of collective responsibility applies: this means that if ministers do not agree internally, the Federal Government decides by majority vote.

Is the capital the seat of the entire Federal Government?

The federal capital Berlin is the seat of government. Before German reunification in 1990, Bonn was the “provisional” capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. In June 1991 the Bundestag decided that Berlin would become the seat of parliament and government. Six federal ministries retained their headquarters in Bonn, however, and all ministries have offices in both cities. As the second political centre of the Federal Republic, Bonn bears the specially introduced designation of Federal City.

You will find the ministries of the German Federal Government here:


Federal Ministries

Federal Ministry of Finance

Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community

Federal Foreign Office

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action

Federal Ministry of Justice

Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Federal Ministry of Defence

Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture

Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

Federal Ministry of Health

Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport

Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Federal Ministry of Building