The role of Germany′s president | Current Affairs | DW | 15.05.2009
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Current Affairs

The role of Germany's president

Who decides who gets the job, and what does Germany's president actually do?

Bellevue Palace

The president lives in Berlin's Bellevue Palace

The president is elected by the Bundesversammlung, or Federal Convention, which is a special constitutional body that convenes solely for this purpose. It is made up of federal parliamentarians and delegates from Germany's 16 states.

The president is elected for a five-year term, and may only be re-elected once.

The presidential job is largely ceremonial. The president has a symbolic function and wields limited powers, but does have moral authority. Past presidents have played an important role in national life by opening debates on broad ethical and social issues.

Presidential duties include representing Germany in its international relations and concluding treaties with other states on its behalf; appointing and dismissing federal judges, federal civil servants and commissioned and non-commissioned officers of the Bundeswehr, Germany's armed forces; pardoning convicted criminals; proposing to the Bundestag a candidate for the office of German chancellor; and appointing and dismissing federal ministers.

It's Germany's highest office, and the only one where the incumbent gets to live in their own palace – Bellevue Palace in Berlin. The president is officially the most important person in the country.

What the president doesn't have is the power to make political decisions. But the president can exert some influence on the chancellor and the government by prompting debate and guiding the direction it takes.

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