President of Germany
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|Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany|
|Bundespräsident der Bundesrepublik Deutschland|
|Status||Head of State|
|Residence||Schloss Bellevue (Berlin)|
Villa Hammerschmidt (Bonn)
|Term length||5 years, renewable once consecutively|
|Constituting instrument||Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany|
|Inaugural holder||Theodor Heuss|
|Formation||24 May 1949|
|Deputy||President of the German Bundesrat|
Under the 1949 constitution (Basic Law) Germany has a parliamentary system of government in which the chancellor (similar to a prime minister or minister president in other parliamentary democracies) is the head of government. The president has far-reaching ceremonial obligations, but also the right and duty to act politically. They can give direction to general political and societal debates and have some important "reserve powers" in case of political instability (such as those provided for by Article 81 of the Basic Law). The president also holds the prerogative to grant pardons on behalf of the federation. The German presidents, who can be elected to two consecutive five-year terms, have wide discretion about how they exercise their official duties.
Under Article 59 (1) of the Basic Law (German Constitution), the president represents the Federal Republic of Germany in matters of international law, concludes treaties with foreign states on its behalf and accredits diplomats. Furthermore, all federal laws must be signed by the president before they can come into effect; presidents may veto a law if they believe it to violate the constitution.
The president's actions and public appearances represent the state itself, its existence, legitimacy, and unity. The president enjoys a higher ranking at official functions than the chancellor. The president's role is integrative and includes the control function of upholding the law and the constitution. It is a matter of political tradition – not legal restrictions – that the president generally does not comment routinely on issues in the news, particularly when there is some controversy among the political parties. This distance from day-to-day politics and daily governmental issues allows the president to be a source of clarification, to influence public debate, voice criticism, offer suggestions and make proposals. In order to exercise this power, they traditionally act above party politics.
The current officeholder is Frank-Walter Steinmeier who was elected on 12 February 2017 and re-elected on 13 February 2022. He is currently serving his second five-year-term, which began on 19 March 2022.