Presidents and Prime Ministers

By Richard Rose; Ezra N. Suleiman | Go to book overview

4
Executive Leadership in Germany:
Dispersion of Power
or "Kanzlerdemokratie"?

Renate Mayntz

In analyzing political leadership one can concentrate on the top office holder and the extent of his power, or view government as a collective enterprise in which a variety of actors and institutions play their parts. Given the complex nature of modern political-administrative systems, the second perspective must be chosen if the purpose of the analysis is to understand the policy process. In modern states government is not a one-man job. Ministers who head vast bureaucratic structures will necessarily enjoy considerable influence on the choice and implementation of policy, even though the constitution may view them merely as aides to the top executive. Yet there are important differences between countries in the structure of collective leadership and in the extent to which the powers of leadership are concentrated in one top office or dispersed among several actors. Government in the Federal Republic of Germany seems characterized by a considerable dispersion of executive power, especially if contrasted to the constitutional model of Presidential leadership.

There is a basic similarity in the functions which the government of modern states must fulfill. Besides the classical executive function of directing the implementation of legislation, governments develop policies and make decisions in their own right. A function of increasing importance is coordinating the policies of the various agencies of the executive branch. The relative merit of a specific pattern of executive leadership depends in part on the extent to which it facilitates or inhibits the performance of the various governmental functions.


The Constitutional Framework of Executive Leadership

A newly made constitution is likely to reflect distinctive functional considerations. This is particularly evident in the German constitution

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