|Formation 1 June 1878|
|Inaugural holder Otto of Stolberg-Wernigerode|
The Deputy to the Federal Chancellor (German: Stellvertreter des Bundeskanzlers), widely known as the Vice Chancellor (German: Vizekanzler) of Germany is, according to protocol, the second highest position in the Cabinet of Germany. He is the equivalent of a deputy prime minister in other parliamentary systems. The current Vice Chancellor is Sigmar Gabriel, who is the president of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and also serves as Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs.
As provided by the Basic Law (Constitution), Vice Chancellor is not an independent office, but a position held by one of the ministers. Since 1966, it has often been held by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It is the Chancellor who chooses which minister serves as Vice Chancellor, although the appointment is formally made by the Federal President.
Since coalition governments are common in German politics, the Vice Chancellor is in most cases the president of the junior coalition partner.
In case of the Chancellor's absence, the Vice Chancellor acts in his or her place, for instance by heading Cabinet meetings.
The Vice Chancellor will not automatically become Chancellor for the rest of the term if the Chancellor dies or becomes unable to fulfill his or her duties in any other way. It is the President who asks a minister (normally the minister who is Vice Chancellor) to fulfill the Chancellor's duties until the Bundestag elects a new Chancellor. This has happened only once: Vice Chancellor Walter Scheel was acting Chancellor for a few days in May 1974 between Chancellor Willy Brandt’s resignation and Helmut Schmidt’s election.
The office was initially established by the 1878 Stellvertretungsgesetz (Deputation Act), which provided for the Imperial Chancellor appointing a deputy, officially known as Allgemeiner Stellvertreter des Reichskanzlers (General Deputy to the Imperial Chancellor). In addition to the general deputy, who would be responsible for all the affairs of the Chancellor, the Chancellor could appoint deputies with limited responsibilities. The act was revised on 28 October 1918, when the possibility of appointing deputies with limited responsibilities was removed and the Vice-Chancellor was given the right to appear before parliament.
German Empire (Allgemeiner Stellvertreter des Reichskanzlers)
Political Party: FKP FVP
Weimar Republic (Allgemeiner Stellvertreter des Reichskanzlers)
Political Party: DDP Centre DVP SPD DNVP
Nazi Germany (Reichvizekanzler)
Political Party: NSDAP
Federal Republic of Germany
Political Party: FDP CDU SPD Green