The Political Afterlives of German Chancellors

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Political Leadership Series book series (PSPL)


The Basic Law which established the Federal Republic reflected the lessons to be drawn from the failure of the Weimar Republic and the shaming disaster of the Third Reich. The president was not to be elected on the basis of popular election — which was viewed as having conferred too much legitimacy — and the chancellor was upgraded in importance. Much, however, depended on the definition that would be given to the office by the first incumbent Konrad Adenauer. The inexperience of the other ministers, the occupation which lasted until 1955 and his correct readings of international and European developments unexpectedly allowed Adenauer to completely dominate the first years of the Federal Republic to a degree where it was often referred to as Chancellor Democracy. As the Federal Republic matured, this dominance lessened, but the chancellor remains by far the most important figure in German political life.


Foreign Policy Federal Republic Supervisory Board Grand Coalition Coalition Partner 
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© William E. Paterson 2012

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