Keeping Weimar at Bay: The German Federal Presidency since 1949

in German Politics and Society
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  • 1 London School of Economics and Political Science
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Learning from the Weimar experience, the founding fathers of the

Federal Republic eliminated the chance of a renewed institutionalized

conflict between the head of state and the federal government

through the creation of the Basic Law [Grundgesetz ]. They primarily

strengthened the power of the chancellor and his cabinet by introducing

the “constructive” vote of no confidence and abolishing the

principle of individual ministerial responsibility, while also reducing

the position of the federal president to a mere representative head of

state. With these clear-cut constitutional arrangements it is not surprising

that Germany has not been among the number of west European

democracies (such as Italy or Austria) for which issues

regarding the power of heads of state have occupied a rather prominent

position on the political agenda of the 1990s.

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