Chancellor of the Duchy of Rhöntal
Coat of Arms of the Rhöntal Government
Prince of the Wakel

since 1 July 2006
Appointer Duchess of Rhöntal
Term length The Chancellor's term of office ends when a new Parliament of Rhöntal convenes for its first meeting or when dismissed by the Monarch i.e. usually 4 years
Formation 1919
Deputy Keeper of the Privy Seal

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Rhöntal (known in German as Kanzler for short) is, under the Rhöntal constitution, the head of government of Rhöntal. The chancellor choses the ministers who are then appointed by the monarch. He controls the compliance of the cabinet to the guidelines set by him. Constitutionally the chancellor is the second most powerful person, however in the order of precedence he ranks behind members of the ducal family, the Archbishop of Firmar and the Hereditary Stadholder. A new chancellor is suggested by Parliament to the monarch who than appoints the nominee. Only reasonable mistrust in form of a constructive vote of no confidence can move the monarch to appoint a new chancellor before the end of the ongoing legislative period.

There have been twelve chancellors since 1919. The current Chancellor of Rhöntal is the TPR politician Johann X Sebastian von Scharnwart-Henrichenburg, 7th Prince of the Wakel, who was elected in 2006.

History of position

The office of Chancellor has a long history, stemming back to the Holy Roman Empire. The title was at times used in several states of German-speaking Europe. The power and influence of this office varied strongly over time.

Like the Archchancellors the Court Chancellor of Rhöntal was the chief administrative of the court. When the incumbent was a member of the clergy the titles of Dean of the private chapel and Court Chancellor were combined.

The modern office of Chancellor was established on 2 May 1848 as a response to widespread revolutionary movement throughout the German Confederation. The young Duke Johann XXIV Friedrich of Rhöntal wanted single figure head responsible for the day-to-day political affairs outside of the court's mess of mixed responsibilities and privileges. With the creation of the post he gave the incumbent the power to decide on matters concerning all but the court's core functions as support of the duke's lifestyle. The first chancellor Franz, Prince of the Rhön was the husband of one of the duke's first cousins and remained in office until the dukes death. Although the chancellor had executive authority over the Secretaries of State the duke would often have audiences with them.

With the end of the Great War and the following emancipation of the people of Rhöntal the post became political.

See the article Chancellor for the etymology of the word.

The chancellor's role

The Constitution of Rhöntal invests the Chancellor (Kanzler) with central executive authority. Since the 1964 election, the two major parties (TPR and CVR) call their leading candidates for the state election "chancellor-candidate" (Kanzlerkandidat), although this is not an official term and any party can nominate a Kanzlerkandidat (even if there is no chance at all to lead or even become part of a coalition). The Government (Regierung) consists of the chancellor and his or her cabinet.

The chancellor's authority emanates from the provisions of the constitution and from his or her status as leader of the party (or coalition of parties) holding a majority of seats in the Parliament of Rhöntal. The chancellor has usually also been chairman of his or her own party.

The first chancellors were as primes inter pares head of a ministry and only saw their post as a form of inter-ministerial coordination and mediation. Setting themselves apart from the rigid authoritative style of government performed by their pre-constitutional predecessors. This interpretation only changed with the war-cabinet of the Margrave of the Renmark. He conducted his role as leader of goverment becoming the focus point of all major government decisions.

Precedential for the current understanding of the chancellorship however was the Landgrave of Groten-Redlingen. During his 16 years as chancellor arrogated nearly all major decisions to himself, and established the chancellorship as the clear focus of power in Rhöntal. He often treated his ministers as mere extensions of his authority rather than colleagues. While his successors have tended to be less domineering, the chancellor has acquired enough power that Rhöntal is often described as a "chancellor democracy."

The chancellor determines the composition of the Cabinet of Rhöntal. The Monarch formally appoints and dismisses cabinet ministers, at the recommendation of the chancellor; no parliamentary approval is needed. According to the Constitution, the chancellor may set the number of cabinet ministers and dictate their specific duties.

Article 65 of the Constitution sets forth three principles that define how the executive branch functions:

  • The "chancellor principle" makes the chancellor responsible for all government policies. Any formal policy guidelines issued by the chancellor are legally binding directives that cabinet ministers must implement. Cabinet ministers are expected to introduce specific policies at the ministerial level that reflect the chancellor's broader guidelines.
  • The "principle of ministerial autonomy" entrusts each minister with the freedom to supervise departmental operations and prepare legislative proposals without cabinet interference so long as the minister's policies are consistent with the chancellor's broader guidelines.
  • The "cabinet principle" calls for disagreements between ministers over jurisdictional or budgetary matters to be settled by the cabinet.

Appointment mechanism

The election mechanism for the Chancellor was defined in detail in the Constitution of Rhöntal. The procedure was defined in depth to prevent to much political interference by the monarch. Unlike regular voting by the Parliament, the vote to elect the chancellor is by secret ballot. This is intended to ensure that the chancellor's majority does not depend on members of his or her party only outwardly showing support. But this only regulated by the Rules of Order of the Parliament of Rhöntal.

If the office of the Chancellor is vacant because of the constitution of a new parliament or the death, resignation or the inability hold office of the old chancellor the members of parliament propose candidates to the monarch of whom he or she chooses five in a particular order. The parliament then decides on the candidates in that order. This vote is one of the few cases where a majority of all elected members of the Parliament must be achieved, as opposed to a mere majority of those that are currently assembled. This is referred to as the Kanzlermehrheit (chancellor's majority), and is designed to ensure the establishment of a stable government. It has in the past occasionally forced ill or pregnant members to have to attend parliament when a party's majority was only slim. Is none of the candidates elected the second stage of the voting process begins. This however has never happened in the history of the duchy.

If the nominees of the monarch are not elected, the Parliament may elect its own nominee within fourteen days. The Rules of Order of the Parliament of Rhöntal provide that at least a fith of the members of Parliament must back a nominee. If no-one is elected within this period, the Parliament will attempt an election. If the person with the highest number of votes has a majority, the monarch must appoint him or her. If the person with the highest number of votes does not have a majority, the monarch may either appoint them or call new elections for the Parliament.

In all there is no case where a Chancellor appointed by the monarch is not at least backed by a relative majority in parliament. After the election the chancellor is sworn into office by the monarch. He or she swears: „Ich schwöre, dass ich meine Kraft dem Wohle der Rhöntaler widmen, ihrem Nutzen mehren, Schaden von ihnen wenden, die Verfassung und die Gesetze des Staates wahren und verteidigen, meine Pflichten gewissenhaft erfüllen und Gerechtigkeit gegen jedermann üben werde. So wahr mir Gott helfe.“-"I swear that I will dedicate my efforts to the well-being of the Rhöntal people, promote their welfare, protect them from harm, uphold and defend the Constitution and the laws of the State, perform my duties conscientiously, and do justice to all. So help me God.". The religious affirmation may be omitted.

The Chancellor does not have to be a Member of the Parliament of Rhöntal or belong to political party, he only has to be eligible to be voted into parliament. During his term of office the Chancellor is barred from holding any other salaried post or manage a businness. Also he may not sit on the Supervisory board of a profit-oriented corporation without consent from parliament.

Cooperation with Parliament

The Parliament can order for presence of the chancellor or any member of the cabinet at any time. In exchange the chancellor and members of government have the right to be present at all sessions of Parliament and it's committees. Additionally they have the right to speak there at any time. If the chancellor speaks in parliament in his functions as head of government and not as member of his or her parliamentary fraction his speaking time is not counted as part of the speaking time alloted to his party.

Appointment of ministers

According to Article 64 of the Constitution the Chancellor nominates ministers who are then appointed by the monarch. Verfassung schlägt der Kanzler dem Herzog die Minister vor, der sie ernennt. If the monarch has to appoint the nominees presented by the chancellor is debated among constitutional scholars but generally favored and without practical background since all monarchs since 1919 have appointed all nominees presented to them as of 2010.

The Chancellor also appoints the Keeper of the Privy Seal, who inofficially is called Vice-chancellor. The Keeper is only a personal replacement in case of illness or another reason for temporary absence. The Keeper has no constitutinal right to assume the office of Chancellor not even in an acting manner.

Votes of no-confidence

For more details, see constructive vote of no confidence.

Unlike in other parliamentary legislatures, the Parliament cannot remove the chancellor simply with a Motion of No Confidence. Instead, the early removal of a chancellor is only possible when it simultaneously agrees on a successor. In order to garner legislative support in parliament, the chancellor can also call for a regular Motion of Confidence, either combined with a legislative proposal or as a standalone vote. Only if such a vote fails may the Monarch dissolve the Parliament.

Precedence, privileges, and form of address

Throughout Rhöntal, the Chancellor outranks all other dignitaries except members of the Ducal Family, the Archbishop of Firmar and the Hereditary Stadholder.

At present the Chancellor receives a salary amounting to five thirds of a B11 civil servant this equates 220,000 €. Additionally he is paid 22.000 € in civil service benefits. The Chancellor's income is taxed normally however he does not have to pay unemployment insurance and pension insurance contributions.

The Chancellor is customarily a member of the Privy Council of Rhöntal and thus entitled to the appellation "The Right Honourable". Membership of the Council is retained for life. It is a constitutional convention that only a Privy Counsellor can be appointed Chancellor. Most potential candidates have already attained this status.

While in office, the Chancellor officially resides at the Regierungspalais on Herzogenallee.

Upon retirement, it is customary for the Monarch to grant the Chancellor a countship. The honour commonly, but not invariably, bestowed is membership of Rhöntals's most senior order of chivalry, the Order of the White Lion.

List of Chancellors

Kanzler des Herzogtums Rhöntal
Nr. Name (Lifespan) Term of office Party Cabinets Parliaments
1 The Prince of the Rhön (1825–1894) 2 May 1948 - 21 October 1888 without affiliation Cabinet Rhön preparlamentarian
2 Johann von Scharnwart-Freudenberg, Count of Freudenberg (1852–1947) 21 October 1888 - 1 December 1918 without affiliation Cabinet Freudenberg preparlamentarian
3 2 December 1918 - 30 June 1919 without affiliation Cabinet preparlamentarian
4 1 July 1919 - 30 June 1923 I 1.
5 1 July 1923 - 2 February 1926 I 2.
6 8 February 1926 - 30 June 1935 I, II, III 2.,3.,4.
7 Theodor von Rotscha (1885–1963) 1 July 1935 - 30 June 1939 CVR I 5.
8 The Count of Seidlingen (later The Margrave of the Renmark) (1887-1956) 1 July 1939 - 30 June 1950 TPR I, II 6.
9 The Landgrave of Groten-Redlingen (* 1900) 1 July 1950 - 30 June 1966 TPR I, II, III, IV 7., 8., 9., 10.
10 Konrad Konradsheim (1908-2006) 1 July 1966 - 30 June 1974 TPR I, II 11., 12.
11 Georg von Scharnwart-Norngau (* 1946) 1 July 1974 - 30 June 1986 TPR I, II, III 13., 14., 15.
12 1 July 1986 - 30 June 1994 CVR I, II 16., 17.
13 Hermann Reuter von Firmar (1932-2012) 1 July 1994 - 30 June 1998 TPR I 18.
14 1 July 1998 - 30. June 2006 CVR I, II 19., 20.
15 The Prince of the Wakel (* 1956) 1 July 2006 - present TPR I, II 21., 22.

Living former Chancellors

There are currently four living former Chancellors:

  • His Royal Highness The Landgrave of Groten-Redlingen served 1950–1966, born 1900
  • His Royal Highness The Prince Johann Georg of Rhöntal served 1974–1986, born 1946
  • Helmut Kohl served 1986–1994, born 1936
  • Gerhardt Schröder served 1998–2006, born 1948

    See also