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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A minister-president is the head of government in a number of European countries or subnational governments, who presides over the council of ministers. It is an alternative term for Prime Minister or First Minister, and very similar to the title of President of the Council.

The German word means "president of the ministers", therefore, "Ministers' President" would be a more literal translation.



From 1867 to 1918, the first minister of the government was known as Ministerpräsident, before that Staatskanzler. Today the head of government is called the Bundeskanzler (Federal Chancellor). The governor of a state is called Landeshauptmann (male) or Landeshauptfrau (female), not Ministerpräsident/-in.

See: List of Ministers-President of Austria.


The term is also used in Belgium, to describe the head of government of a Belgian region or linguistic community.

According to the Belgian constitution, the federal prime minister of Belgium is appointed by the king, and approved by federal parliament with a vote of confidence (in practice the king usually appoints the leader of the winning party as "formateur" to form a government). The federal ministers later swear an oath of allegiance to the king. The ministers-president of the states are not appointed by the king, but directly by the state parliaments. State ministers are not required to swear allegiance to the king but simply take an oath in the state parliaments.



Wolfgang Clement, former Ministerpräsident of North Rhine-Westphalia

The Ministerpräsident is the head of government of a German state; the office corresponds to the governorship of a state in the United States. Since the German language reflects the gender in the nouns, the female version of Ministerpräsident would be Ministerpräsidentin. The correct form of address for men is "Herr Ministerpräsident" and for women "Frau Ministerpräsidentin". There is some confusion about the correct English translation, the Ministerpräsident/-in is either known as "Minister-President" or "Prime Minister". (ex. Prime Minister of Brandenburg [1], Prime Minister of Lower Saxony [2]). The title can be translated as "Minister President", "Minister-President", or "(State) Premier".

Generally the constitutional position of a Minister-President in a state is very similar to the one of chancellor on the federal level. He is elected by a majority in the state-parliament (Landtag), appoints the state-ministers and determines the policy guidelines. He also, along with several of his ministers, represents the state in the Bundesrat, the German Federal Council. Through this, they can be very powerful within the federal structure.

An agreement between the parties CDU and CSU, which leaves the state of Bavaria to the CSU while the CDU operates in all other states, puts the Ministerpräsident of Bavaria in a special position. Due to the agreement the Bavarian CSU is present in the Bundestag, the federal parliament, on its own. Since Bavaria's Minister-President is (usually) also head of the CSU, he has a small, but significant additional influence in the federal parliament.

Note: All heads of the Länder governments are called Ministerpräsident/-in, with the exceptions of the city-states of Berlin, Bremen, and Hamburg. There the heads of state government are called Regierender Bürgermeister (Governing Mayor) of Berlin, Bürgermeister und Präsident des Senats (Mayor and President of the Senate) of Bremen, and Erster Bürgermeister (First Mayor) of Hamburg. They hold the same power and position as the other Ministers-President.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands the prime minister is officially referred to as "minister-president", though normally "premier" is used. His responsibilities are defined in the constitution of 1848 (president of the council of ministers). The title of minister-president is officially in use since 1945.


In Norway, Vidkun Quisling, head of the government from 1942 to 1945 during the German occupation in World War II, held the title of Minister-President (in Norwegian, ministerpresident).



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